Shohei Ohtani’s sleep schedule is finally back on track after gambling scandal

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers won for the 17th time in 21 games, and hammered the rival San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park (LA 10, SF 2). The Dodgers are 29-15 overall and have a 7.5-game lead in the NL West. No other first-place team has more than a two-game division lead.

Shohei Ohtani did his part in Tuesday’s win, going 3 for 5 with a double and a long 446-foot home run that very nearly left the stadium despite being hit into the gap rather than down the line. Ohtani owns a .362/.427/.680 slash line in 2024.

Ohtani is 20 for 47 (.426) with five home runs in his last 12 games and, following Tuesday’s win, he acknowledged he is starting to sleep better. He said he had trouble resting after the news that Ippei Mizuhara, his longtime friend and interpreter, was involved in a massive gambling scandal and had stolen more than $16 million from Ohtani.

Here’s what Ohtani told the Associated Press:

“Initially I really didn’t have much sleep obviously with the things that were happening but now I’ve been able to really have a pretty consistent routine, been able to sleep well, so I think those are leading to good results,” Ohtani said through Will Ireton, his new interpreter.

When asked how he has been able to get better sleep, Ohtani added: “I think really as the incidents progressed and I was basically doing what I can to show that I’m fine, and as the incidents were progressing and the investigation was going on and I was starting to not be involved any more, that’s when I was able to really focus on my sleep and being able to sleep better.”

Ohtani is something of a sleep freak. He takes naps as part of his daily routine and even travels with a custom-made mattress and pillow. Earlier in his career, Ohtani had (and may still have) an agreement with the Japanese bedding manufacturer Nishikawa, which took regular measurements of his body and designed sleep equipment to meet his needs.

Ohtani is hardly the only player to take pregame naps or treat rest as critical to his career. Last year Toronto Blue Jays lefty Yusei Kikuchi revealed he prefers to get 13-14 hours of sleep the night before his starts. I can’t imagine many players travel with a custom mattress though. Ohtani takes his sleep very seriously and that was at risk amid the Mizuhara scandal.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Mizuhara pleaded not guilty to bank and tax fraudwhich was a formality as he negotiates a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He will plead guilty at a later time. Mizuhara faces a maximum sentence of 33 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $1.25 million fine.

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