Shohei Ohtani said Monday he has maintained a singular focus on baseball amid an alleged gambling scandal involving his former interpreter that has overshadowed the start of the two-way superstar's first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani spoke to reporters before the Dodgers opened their series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field and touched upon the situation with interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, which is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Major League Baseball.

Seen regularly by Ohtani's side since his first MLB season in 2018, Mizuhara is alleged to have stolen millions of dollars from the player to pay debts from illegal gambling on sports. He was fired by the Dodgers while they were in Seoul for their season-opening series against the San Diego Padres last month.

"When I play baseball, I don't really think about it," Ohtani said. "I think basically the skills I've acquired playing baseball don't change, so I trust that first and foremost. My job is to give 100 percent of myself on the field, and that doesn't change regardless of what happens off the field."

The unwanted spotlight fell upon the guardedly private Ohtani soon after he had made headlines in Japan and the United States by revealing his marriage to former professional basketball player Mamiko Tanaka.

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani speaks to reporters ahead of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on April 8, 2024, at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The 29-year-old said he appreciates the support she had provided.

"The basic rhythm of life hasn't changed, but a lot has happened in the past few weeks, so it makes quite a difference having someone by your side," he said. "There have been times I was really glad to have her there."

Following a relatively quiet start to the season, Ohtani appears to have clicked into gear recently, hitting his first three home runs over the past five games. That stretch also comprises his longest streak of multiple-hit games in his MLB career.

"Of course, hitting that first home run makes a difference totally," he said. "Being able to relax mentally going into the batter's box is a big difference."

Ohtani remarked on the chemistry he has quickly developed with his new teammates at Dodger Stadium, where expectations are high following the offseason record signings of the two-time American League MVP and star Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

"I've definitely had great support from the team, the coaches and the front office. I'm really grateful," Ohtani said.

Having set one record after another over the course of his career, the Iwate Prefecture native is on the verge of another milestone. With 174 home runs in the U.S. majors, he will soon eclipse Hideki Matsui's record of 175 for most homers by a Japanese player in MLB.

"I think it's a special number, so of course I want to hit it as soon as possible," Ohtani said.

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