Johnny Damon weighs in on Shohei Ohtani controversy, calls for Pete Rose to be in Hall of Fame

April 2, 2024

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The gambling scandal involving Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani engulfed the baseball world ahead of Opening Day.

Ohtani claimed his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara stole money from his bank accounts in order to gamble, but that explanation came after Mizuhara said Ohtani openly helped him pay off gambling debits. Mizuhara has said he lied in his original ESPN interview and Ohtani said the interpreter was “stealing money and telling lies.”

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Shohei Ohtani singles

Shohei Ohtani hits a double in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

World Series champion Johnny Damon appeared on OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich” and even thought it was strange that Ohtani wouldn’t have initially noticed the large sum taken out of his accounts.

“Well, having $4.5 million stolen from you – I would think he would notice it. I just think he’s just too big for baseball,” Damon said. “This is something that nobody wants to deal with, especially at the start of a brand new baseball season.… This is a really tough call for everybody.”

EX-MLB ALL-STAR CASTS DOUBT OVER SHOHEI OHTANI’S GAMBLING INNOCENCE: ‘THE CIRCUMSTANCES DON’T ADD UP’

Johnny Damon in February 2020

Johnny Damon attends Michael Rubin’s Fanatics Super Bowl Party at Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Feb. 1, 2020, in Florida. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Fanatics)

The former New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox star added that he believed Pete Rose should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame given how the world’s attitude has changed toward gambling.

“I still believe Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. This is a big gambling issue. But there’s gambling sites everywhere now. It’s what’s fueling the sports world right now. It’s one of those things where everyone else can do it, but you can’t. Who knows the extent of what (the interpreter) bet on.”

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Shohei Ohtani prepares

Shohei Ohtani against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball is investigating the matter. Mizuhara had been Ohtani’s personal translator since breaking into MLB in 2018 with the Los Angeles Angels. They were inseparable, as Mizuhara would even catch Ohtani’s bullpen sessions and play catch with him in the outfield before games.

Fox News’ Ryan Morik contributed to this report.

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