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Atlanta Braves player under investigation for sports betting

David Fletcher #22 of Atlanta Braves makes a throw to first during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Truist Park on April 23, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into Atlanta Braves player and second baseman David Fletcher in connection to gambling, according to ESPN.

David Fletcher, who previous played for the Los Angeles Angels, is suspected of betting on sports — but not baseball — with Mathew Bowyer, the Southern California bookmaker who took wagers from Shohei Ohtani’s longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

Federal prosecutors say Ippei Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off sports gambling debts during a yearslong scheme, at times impersonating the Dodgers superstar to bankers.

The league’s gambling policy prohibits players and team employees from wagering on baseball, even legally. MLB also bans betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers. The penalty is at the discretion of the commissioner’s office.

Fletcher was a teammate of Ohtani’s during the Japanese two-way sensation’s six years with the Angels. Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700-million contact with the Los Angeles Dodgers last December while Fletcher was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He is now with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers.

Mizuhara pleaded not guilty Tuesday to bank and tax fraud, a formality ahead of a plea deal he negotiated with prosecutors and signed on May 5 in a wide-ranging sports betting case.

In a March interview, Fletcher told ESPN he was present at a 2021 poker game in San Diego where Mizuhara first met Bowyer. Fletcher said he knew Bowyer was a bookmaker at the time, and added that he never placed a bet himself with Bowyer’s operation. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.