The Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first World Series title since the Reagan era Tuesday was tempered by news that the team’s star third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 and was informed late in the deciding Game 6. He left the field before the eighth inning and was put in isolation but returned later to celebrate the championship with his teammates — sometimes without a mask.
Now Major League Baseball wants an explanation and is launching “a full investigation into this matter.” In a statement today, MLB pointed the finger directly at the veteran player, saying: “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. … When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”
Read the full statement below.
A Dodger since 2014 and two-time World Series runner-up, Turner was the team’s rep on the MLB Players Association, which negotiated the coronavirus protocols that led to the interrupted season resuming. He emerged from isolation after the win and took the field to celebrate; he was seen wearing a mask but later removed it to pose for photos.
His excitement was understandable as it was his first World Series win and the celebration, as for any player, could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But Turner faced a near-immediate backlash on social media for not only joining his teammates on the field knowing he’d tested positive but doing so without wearing a face covering some of the time.
The incident having taken place during the postseason raises some interesting questions. MLB’s regular-season protocols called for a game to be stopped immediately and the rest of the series postponed if a player tested positive for COVID-19. It is uncertain what would have happened had the Tampa Bay Rays rallied to extend the World Series to a winner-take-all Game 7.
Dozens of games were postponed due to positive tests during MLB’s truncated 60-game 2020 regular season.
Here is the full statement from MLB today:
“Immediately upon receiving notice from the laboratory of a positive test, protocols were triggered, leading to the removal of Justin Turner from last night’s game. Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him. 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 Commissioner’s Office is beginning a full investigation into this matter and will consult with the Players Association within the parameters of the joint 2020 Operations Manual.
“Last night, nasal swabs were conducted on the Dodgers’ traveling party. Both the Rays and Dodgers were tested again today and their travel back to their home cities will be determined after being approved by the appropriate authorities.”
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