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Dave Roberts happy there's no longer a 'buffer' between Shohei Ohtani and Dodgers after Ippei Mizuhara firing

As far as hirings go, former Shohei Ohtani interpreter Ippei Mizuhara wound up being a bad one for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What else is there to say after Ohtani read a lengthy statement alleging Mizuhara crafted a web of lies to hide a gambling addiction and brazen theft of $4.5 million? Well, as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated Tuesday, the team isn't too sad to see Mizuhara gone just on his merits as an interpreter.

Speaking to reporters a day after Ohtani's statement, Roberts said he believes the loss of Mizuhara will be a plus for the Dodgers from a baseball standpoint, calling the interpreter a "buffer" between team and player.

From the Associated Press:

“Actually, I would argue that it’s going to help relations internally,” manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday before the Dodgers' final exhibition game. “Because there’s no longer a buffer. I think that I’ve already seen it the last couple of days. I think Shohei has been even more engaging with his teammates, and I think there’s only upside with that.”

Roberts also reportedly said that working with Ohtani through Mizuhara was "difficult" at times.

Mizuhara was replaced by Dodgers employee Will Ireton, who previously translated for Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda from 2016-18. Since then, Ireton had been working in the Dodgers' baseball operations department, most recently as a manager of performance operations.

Ippei Mizuhara had been Shohei Ohtani's 'buffer' since he reached MLB

As the scandal around Mizuhara and Ohtani is untangled, it is becoming increasingly clear that Mizuhara had an incredible influence on Ohtani's life and career in the United States. Per Ohtani's account, the player didn't even hear from his American representatives about the brewing scandal before Mizuhara admitted to having a gambling problem in the Dodgers' clubhouse.

This picture taken on March 16, 2024 shows Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani (R) and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (L) attending a press conference at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul ahead of the 2024 MLB Seoul Series baseball game between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The Los Angeles Dodgers said on March 21 they had fired Shohei Ohtani's interpreter after the Japanese baseball star's representatives claimed he had been the victim of
Shohei Ohtani has known Ippei Mizuhara since his rookie year in Japan's NPB. (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images) (JUNG YEON-JE via Getty Images)

MLB players from Asia who don't speak English are heavily reliant on their interpreters, and not just for speaking with coaches, teammates and reporters. These are players navigating a foreign country with little experience. Mizuhara was Ohtani's interpreter, personal assistant, confidant, chauffeur, catch partner, analyst, rehab partner and friend.

The Angels appeared to have an experience similar to the Dodgers in working with Ohtani, as one Sports Illustrated story shows:

That afternoon, when they reached the BART station, Mizuhara’s phone buzzed with a text from manager Joe Maddon. Should they push Ohtani’s start back a day to give him time to go through a proper warmup? Or would that mess with other elements of the routine? Mizuhara conferred with Ohtani, the two quickly weighing team and individual needs, and sent back the verdict: “Shohei’s good with that.”

The Dodgers knew this when signing Ohtani and hiring Mizuhara and were apparently OK enough with it to reportedly increase Mizuhara's salary from $85,000 to mid-six figures. The team probably saw that as the cost of doing business with Ohtani, but it ended up being much costlier.