ARLINGTON, Texas – Justin Turner violated coronavirus protocols when he returned to the field to celebrate with his teammates after the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the World Series on Tuesday night, Major League Baseball said.
In a statement, MLB also said the Dodgers’ third baseman refused instructions from security officials to leave the field and risked the safety of others. The commissioner’s office said Wednesday that it was beginning a full investigation, ESPN reported.
“Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him,” MLB said in a statement. “However, following the Dodgers’ victory, it is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others. While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner’s decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”
The Dodgers had pulled Turner, 35, from Game 6 when they learned of his positive test before the eighth inning, The New York Times reported. Turner went 0-for-3 and struck out twice before he was replaced by Edwin Rios in the eighth inning.
When the Dodgers completed a 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays to earn their first World Series title since 1988, Turner was not on the field for the trophy presentation, the Los Angeles Times reported. He later came onto the field to celebrate.
Turner was seen kissing his wife, holding the World Series trophy and hugging teammates, The New York Times reported.
Turner wasn’t on the field for the Dodgers’ trophy presentation but later emerged to celebrate with the team. He posed in the team photograph, sitting between manager Dave Roberts and team president Andrew Friedman, the newspaper reported. None of them wore a face-covering during the photo session.
An initial round of postgame tests Tuesday night revealed no additional positives among players on either team, the Los Angeles Times reported. Another round of testing occurred, and one Rays family member tested positive, the newspaper reported.
Turner could be disciplined under an agreement between MLB and the players’ association on health and safety protocol, ESPN reported. There is nothing specified in the agreement about the range of penalties, the network reported.
How Turner tested positive remains a mystery. MLB does not believe Turner contracted the virus from a fan, as there was limited seating capacity at Globe Life Field and 20-foot minimum distancing between players and fans, the Los Angeles Times reported. The hotel where the teams stayed might be a more likely source, the newspaper reported.
Turner hit .293 with three homers and six RBIs in the postseason, including .320 with a pair of solo homers in the World Series. He became a free agent after the postseason ended.
“Having a mask on and staying socially distanced, he wanted to come out and take a picture with the trophy, which I can’t state strongly enough how big of a role he’s played in the success of this organization,” Friedman said after Game 6. “But I think for him, just being a free agent, not knowing exactly how the future is going to play out, I don’t think there was anyone that was going to stop him from going out. I think — from at least my perspective and not watching it super closely with everything going on — but I think he was mindful of other people, especially other people that he hadn’t already been in contact with. This is something that we’re going to wrap our arms around tonight and in the morning and figure out where we’re going from here.”
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