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Rob Manfred Discusses Mizuhara, Fletcher Investigation; A’s Stadium plans

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters (including Evan Drellich of The Athletic) about the league’s ongoing investigation into allegations of illegal sports betting against Ippei Mizuhara and David Fletcher. Mizuhara had worked as Shohei Ohtani‘s translator during his time with the Angels and joined him in targeting the Dodgers this season but was fired on Opening Day amid reports linking Mizuhara to an illegal gambling operation in California, while Fletcher was reportedly linked to that same operation last week.

As Drellich noted, MLB’s investigative department has been largely deferring to federal authorities during the investigation. Manfred suggested that this no-nonsense approach is necessary, noting that government authorities have “more tools” at their disposal than the organization that is conducting an investigation in this situation. Drellich explains that while the league’s investigation into legal gambling can be aided by regulators and alerts received by the league’s central office, no such measures are available in cases of illegal gambling.

“We have no way of knowing what the illegal bookie is doing,” Manfred said, as relayed by Drellich. “… by definition, in most cases we will be chasing, usually a press report or a criminal investigation.”

Manfred went on to suggest that a proactive approach to investigation would be vulnerable to “distraction[ing] in a non-productive way,” which made the unit decide to slow down in its investigation of these cases while following the reporting based on the investigation of the media and government authorities. Reports earlier this month suggested that Mizuhara pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and filing false tax returns in connection with allegedly stealing more than $16MM from Ohtani to fund his gambling habit.

Aside from his comments on the ongoing investigation, Manfred also discussed the upcoming relocation of the Athletics from Oakland to Las Vegas and their temporary move to Sacramento following the 2024 campaign while they await the construction of their new stadium in Nevada. Manfred notes that Sutter Health Park in Sacramento, the current home of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, will undergo significant renovations in preparation for the arrival of the A’s next season. Per Manfred, a completely new A’s clubhouse will be built while the visiting clubhouse will be renovated, the field will be installed with new artificial turf, and the field cameras will be upgraded to accommodate major league broadcasts.

In addition to discussing improvements being made to the temporary ballpark in Sacramento, Manfred noted that the timeline for construction of the club’s permanent ballpark in Las Vegas is tight if the club is to begin playing there in 2028, as previously expected. . According to Drellich, Manfred indicated that the A’s would need to start in Las Vegas in April 2025 if they are ready for Opening Day 2028. reportedly seeking $500MM, and reaching an agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on a plan for the club to meet its $1.1 billion stadium construction obligations.

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