Shohei Ohtani speaks today. Will he give answers? Plus, more on an ‘uncomfortable’ MLBPA phone call

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We’re going to hear from Shohei Ohtani today on the gambling scandal and theft allegations. How much will he say? Plus, Ken spoke to a remorseful member of the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee and we preview the Giants, Nationals and Angels. I’m Grant Brisbee, in for Levi Weaver, with Ken Rosenthal — welcome to the Windup.

Shohei Ohtani to address media today

Today is the day — Shohei Ohtani is supposed to speak to reporters for the first time since the gambling scandal came to light. Among those who are pleased that Ohtani is breaking his silence? His manager, Dave Roberts, as Fabian Ardaya reports:

Ohtani’s decision to talk appeared to surprise even some team officials, though Roberts said that Ohtani addressing the situation would be “good” to bring his perspective to a situation that has lacked real, clear-cut answers as to what took place.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Roberts said. “I’m happy he’s going to speak, speak to what he knows and give his thoughts on the whole situation. I think it’ll give us a little bit more clarity.”

To recap: Last week, Ohtani’s representatives accused Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter and closest companion since arriving stateside in 2018, of committing a “massive theft” and stealing a reported sum of at least $4.5 million from Ohtani to pay off debts to an alleged illegal bookmaker. Since then, we haven’t heard from Ohtani, his agent, Nez Balelo, anyone from the Dodgers brass … the list goes on.

So yes, we’re all hoping for a little more clarity when it comes to this situation. The Dodgers will play Game 2 of a three-game exhibition Freeway Series against the Angels tonight at Dodger Stadium. They open their (domestic) regular season on Thursday against the Cardinals.

More on the betting scandal: Here are some of the unanswered questions, there were some inaccuracies in Mizuhara’s public biography and we have an explainer on MLB’s betting rules.

Ken’s Notebook: Flaherty regrets ‘uncomfortable’ phone call

From my latest column:

Jack Flaherty sounded remorseful.

Last Monday, the Detroit Tigers right-hander was part of a group of players who confronted Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The players wanted Clark to replace his second-in-command, Bruce Meyer, with a former MLBPA lawyer, Harry Marino. And the call grew heated.

Less than a week later, Flaherty and the other seven major leaguers on the union’s executive subcommittee authorized Clark to issue a statement saying, “We still have issues to discuss but one thing clear among the MLB executive subcommittee members is that this is no longer a Harry Marino discussion, in any respect.”

With that, a tumultuous week inside the union took another dramatic turn. The subcommittee’s statement did not address the fate of Meyer. But Flaherty, in an interview with The Athletic on Sunday, expressed regret for the way he conducted himself on the call with Clark — and optimism that the events of the past week will lead to the union growing stronger. Here is part of my interview with Flaherty, which has been edited for clarity.

Where are you with Tony?

I love working with Tony. I continue to inform Tony on what was going on and informed him on what was happening. Tony has done a great job handling all of this, even at points where I was at fault and may not have put him in the best position.

He has handled this situation very well and with poise and with great leadership, taking the time to talk to as many players as I’m sure he has talked to the past two weeks, over the course of this whole thing going on. It has not gone on for very long, but it happened very quickly, making it feel like this was something that went on for a very long time.

What were you doing that you were at fault for?

There was one phone call that went on that I put Tony in a bad position in, where Harry tried to push his way through. He tried to pressure Tony, and Tony stood strong, said this is not going to happen. Tony has done nothing but stand strong in all of this. That was something I would love to take back. I never wanted Harry to be in Bruce’s position.

Tony and I have gone over it. We’ve talked about how I put him in an uncomfortable position. That’s the relationship we have. We can talk about these things. Not everything is going to be perfect. You take that, you move on and you learn from it. I appreciate the way Tony has handled it.

Were you trying to help Harry gain momentum?

No, that’s not what was going on. I was not trying to push Harry and give Harry any type of momentum. I was simply trying to inform Tony what was going on and what was coming his way.

The way you said it wasn’t ideal?

I think putting Tony in contact with Harry was not the right thing to do. Actually, I didn’t put Tony in contact with Harry. But I wish I was never on that phone call. I wish I was not in that situation. The phone call was uncomfortable, the way Harry kind of went at Tony and tried to push things on him. I wish I was not on that.

Sleepy Giants offseason got a jolt

ZiPS projected record: 83-79
2023 record: 79-83

As of a month ago, the Giants were having a mostly sleepy offseason that seemed designed to irritate a very vocal plurality of the fan base. Their rotation was made up of Logan Webb, Kyle Harrison, Jordan Hicks and two interns looking to get college credit.

It was all a ruse, though, as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was just waiting for the market to come to him, not the other way around. He didn’t just win one war of wills with Scott Boras, but two of them in quick succession. Matt Chapman and Blake Snell were projected to get a combined 10 years and $230 million by our own Tim Britton, who’s very good at this. The Giants got both of them for a maximum of five years and $116 million. That’s good thriftin’.

As you can tell by the gap between the ZiPS projection and their record last season, though, there’s still some work to do. The Giants have a better lineup than they did last year, but it’s not a lineup that will keep pitching coaches up at night.

Key departures: 3B J.D. Davis, OF/DH Joc Pederson, OF Mitch Haniger, SS Brandon Crawford, LHP Alex Wood, LHP Sean Manaea, LHP Scott Alexander, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Ross Stripling, RHP Jakob Junis, RHP John Brebbia

Key arrivals: OF Jung Hoo Lee, OF/DH Jorge Soler, 3B Matt Chapman, SS Nick Ahmed, C Tom Murphy, LHP Blake Snell, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Jordan Hicks

Prospect corner: Kyle Harrison is one of the only rookies in baseball with a no-doubt, guaranteed rotation spot right now, and the 11th-overall prospect according to Keith Law is in a great spot, with Cy Young contenders ahead of him and veterans ready to join the rotation midseason. There are expectations for him, but not pressure.

Nationals heading in the right direction

GettyImages 1632591243 scaled

CJ Abrams is one of a few bright spots for the Nationals this year. (Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

Angels bank on the youth improving

Sam Blum previewed the Angels’ season for us. For more on how the AL West is stacking up this year, check out our staff preview.

ZiPS projected record: 83-79
2023 record: 79-83

The Angels were tied to basically every free agent this offseason. Mike Trout openly campaigned for ownership to pull the trigger. The team also lost a nine-WAR player in Ohtani, who walked to the Dodgers.

In terms of the actual roster, the only area that’s been improved is the bullpen. The Angels are banking on improvement from their core of young starting pitchers. They’re hoping the coaching staff changes the culture. And they’re praying for better health. This is what the Angels do every year. Hope hope hope, with almost no direction or spending behind it. Maybe one of these years it’ll work. But for now, it’s hard to see how the Angels will stack up in a division with three other teams that will be contending.

This team needs Anthony Rendon and Trout to stay on the field. They need Logan O’Hoppe and Zach Neto to develop into the stars they’ve shown signs of becoming. And they’ll need that starting rotation to simply be better. Possible, yes. But it’s a lot to ask.

Key departures: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani, INF Gio Urshela, OF Randall Grichuk, 1B C.J. Cron, INF David Fletcher

Key arrivals: OF Aaron Hicks, LHP Matt Moore, RHP
Robert Stephenson, RHP Zach Plesac, RHP José Cisnero, RHP Adam Cimber, RHP Luis García, LHP Adam Kolarek

Prospect corner: Nolan Schanuel tops Keith Law’s list of top Angels prospects. He’s patient at the plate and makes contact, but Keith asks: Can he can get to more power from such a big (6-4, 220 pounds) frame?

Handshakes and High Fives

Peter G. Angelos, the billionaire attorney and majority owner of the Orioles for more than 30 years, died Saturday. He was 94.

Juan Soto’s first official order of business as a Yankee? A visit to the team’s Dominican Academy.

Say what you want about Jim Bowden’s 24 MLB predictions for the 2024 season, but you can’t say they aren’t thorough. He even guesses who will sing the national anthem at the All-Star Game.

We graded all 30 teams’ offseasons. Every team passed except one. Take a guess at which team got a big ol’ F.

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(Top photo: Harry How / Getty Images)

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