Shohei Ohtani looks on prior to making his home debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
CNN  — 

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said on Thursday that he hopes the league’s investigation into superstar Shohei Ohtani is short, “but I just don’t know” how long it will take.

The build-up to the new MLB season was overshadowed following the recent gambling scandal involving Ohtani and his former longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

The scandal had broken while the Dodgers were in South Korea earlier this month when ESPN and the Los Angeles Times – which broke the story – reported Ohtani’s lawyers accused Mizuhara of “massive theft” of millions of dollars and placing bets with a bookmaker who is under federal investigation. Mizuhara was fired while the team was in Seoul.

Ohtani, who during the offseason signed baseball’s richest contract with the Dodgers, adamantly denied betting on any sport or paying a bookie and placed the blame for the improprieties squarely on his former interpreter who the two-time American League (AL) MVP alleged was stealing money from his account.

The situation is currently under investigation from both the league and federal authorities, and Manfred was keen to guarantee fans that the league is doing all it can to learn the facts of the situation to resolve it as quickly as possible.

“Given the way the story unfolded, it’s important in terms of assuring our fans about the integrity of the game that we verify the things that Mr. Ohtani has said, and it’s really that simple,” Manfred told Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo on MLB Network.

Manfred looks on prior to Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers.

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson, citing multiple unnamed sources, said on CNN’s “The Lead” last week at least $4.5 million was withdrawn via wire transfer from Ohtani’s bank accounts, though it is unclear who initiated the transfers.

The Internal Revenue Service and Major League Baseball are investigating the matter, with the league trying to determine whether its strict rules against gambling have been broken. A player or employee who gambles on baseball can be suspended for a year, while someone who gambles on a game they are in some way a part of can be suspended for life. MLB commissioner Manfred can also penalize someone who goes outside legal sports betting entities and gambles with a bookie.

MLB considers Rule 21 so important it requires it be posted in every clubhouse.

The situation involving Ohtani has raised further questions abouts sport’s relationship with betting in the US as the industry continues to grow.

In the past NFL season alone, multiple players were suspended for violating the league’s gambling policy.

When asked about American sport’s complex relationship with the gambling industry, Manfred stressed the importance of setting clear guidelines for all involved.

“Sports betting is going to go on in the United States whether we have a relationship with any particular company, any gambling enterprise, or not,” he told Russo. “The fact of the matter is the Supreme Court ruling opened that up and it’s going to happen and there’s nothing we can do about that, number one.

“No. 2, I don’t think it’s unusual to have a set of rules that apply to fans and executives and private citizens out there on the one hand, and players and people who have the ability to affect the outcome of the play on the field. They have two different sets of rules for those groups makes perfect sense to me.

“The fact of the matter is, there are all sorts of situations in which you have a privilege, in this case the privilege to play in Major League Baseball, and that comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior, in this case gambling, that are legal for other people.”