“Otani Interpreter” also receives praise “Together 365 days a year, a friendship that transcends professions”
As Japanese pitcher and hitter Shohei Ohtani (29) of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has been on a tear, his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara (39), has also been in the spotlight.
U.S. online publication Sportskeeda recently reported on the relationship between Ohtani and Mizuhara, noting that “their friendship goes beyond professional ties.” Mizuhara told the publication, “I stay with Otani in the offseason. I’m always by his side 365 days a year.” This shows how close and strong their relationship is, both on and off the field.
“Mizuhara’s constant communication support has played an important role in Ohtani’s success in the major leagues,” the media outlet said. “With Mizuhara’s help, Ohtani has been able to focus on his game without worrying about communication or adjusting to a new culture in the United States.”
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, also recently posted a photo of Ohtani and Mizuhara on social media and praised their relationship, calling it “one of the best friendships in baseball.안전놀이터
Ohtani (center) looks at interpreter Mizuhara (right) as he talks to his coach during spring training in 2018. /AFPBBNews=News1
Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Mizuhara moved to Los Angeles with his parents in 1991 when he was 7 years old. After graduating from the University of California, Mizuhara began his professional career as an interpreter for Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox in 2007, working for Japanese pitcher Hideki Okajima, 48.
Recognized for his diligence and skill, Mizuhara was scouted by the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Nippon Ham Fighters in 2013 as a foreign player interpreter. Five years later, in 2018, Mizuhara accompanied former Nippon Ham player Otani to the major leagues as an interpreter.
“Ever since Ohtani arrived in the United States to play in the major leagues, Mizuhara has grown to be an integral part of Ohtani’s life, both on and off the field,” the publication said.
In fact, Mizuhara not only translates for Ohtani, but is also known for playing catch with him before games to help him warm up. “Having seen Ohtani’s talent from the sidelines since his days at Nippon Ham, I was sure he would be successful in the major leagues,” Mizuhara said, “and I’m so grateful and happy to have been able to witness his success from up close.”
“On away games, we’re close enough to have breakfast with him at the hotel and ride the bus to the ballpark,” he said. “On days when he pitches, especially when he’s done well, I’ll check my phone after the game and there will be 20 or so text messages from his parents or other close friends in Japan.” He also shared a behind-the-scenes look at how the team works together.
Ohtani batting. /AFPBBNews=News1
Ohtani pitching. /AFPBBNews=News1
“During the season, Mizuhara receives Ohtani’s pitches directly from the bullpen,” the publication said. “In many professional sports, including baseball, language barriers between players are commonplace, but the role of interpreter has taken on a new emphasis with Ohtani’s meteoric rise to stardom in the U.S. Mizuhara doesn’t just handle press conferences and media interactions, but also communicates with teammates in the clubhouse and acts as a liaison between Ohtani and the coaching staff.”
Mizuhara is also responsible for briefing Ohtani on power analyses of opposing hitters and pitchers he will be facing. “Mizuhara’s dedication is no small part of the reason why Ohtani has been able to succeed in the major leagues in such a short time,” the publication said.
“Mizuhara’s knowledge and familiarity with both Japanese and English from his years in the game has become an invaluable asset that can’t be priced,” the publication continued.