Tuesday December 5, 2023

Dodgers’ Justin Turner Played by a Different Set of COVID-19 Rules

  • MLB says Turner 'emphatically refused to comply’ with pandemic protocols.
  • Local officials were not consulted immediately following Turner’s positive test.
Justin Turner
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports
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Fans could be ejected from Game 6 of the World Series for violating social distancing safeguards, yet Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was allowed to huddle up next to teammates to celebrate the club’s first title since 1988 despite a positive COVID-19 test.

The disparity in enforcement of pandemic-related measures was a product of how each was designed. 

Local health officials worked in conjunction with police and private security at Globe Life Field to enforce one set of rules for the public. MLB enforced its protocols — hammered out with the cooperation of the MLB Players Association — for players.

Turner flatly ignored MLB’s rules by returning to the field to celebrate, the league said in a statement on Oct. 28. Unlike an obstinate fan, however, Turner wasn’t forced off the field or even made to wear a mask as he potentially exposed teammates, photographers and others.

“Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others,” MLB said in a statement. “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.”

There were warnings in English and Spanish all over Globe Life Field to remind fans of the protocols. The first several rows near the field were taped off, which was meant to keep fans a safe distance from the players.

As it turns out, blocking off those seats also kept Turner away from the public.

Local public safety officials were not immediately consulted after Turner’s positive test surfaced and he was pulled from the lineup late in Game 6, a person with knowledge of the events told Front Office Sports.  

Per MLB’s protocols, Turner was meant to be kept in isolation at the stadium until he could be transported out.

“The Commissioner’s Office is beginning a full investigation into this matter and will consult with the [Major League Baseball] Players Association within the parameters of the joint 2020 Operations Manual,” the MLB said in its statement.

An MLBPA spokesperson declined to comment.

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