MLB is not suspending or fining Justin Turner for celebrating the Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series title on the field — at times, maskless — after testing positive for COVID-19 during Game 6.
Turner’s actions, which included taking pictures with the team and interacting with family members, cast a shadow and caused a media frenzy in the aftermath of his team’s first championship in 32 years.
Turner was removed from the game in the eighth inning and told to isolate, but after the game concluded, he managed to get back out to the field despite security efforts to stop him. In its initial statement, the league pinned all fault on Turner, but in a statement on Nov. 6, Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged holes in MLB’s protocol that allowed the situation to occur.
Manfred said that the league’s investigation revealed that Dodgers teammates encouraged him to join them for a photograph, and many felt they had already been exposed to the virus and “were prepared to tolerate the additional risk.”
Turner also said that he received permission from at least one Dodgers employee to join the team, and two others did not say anything as they saw him head to the field. The league said Turner was also “incorrectly told” by an unidentified person that other players had tested positive, making him think that “he was being singled out for isolation.”
“Finally, Major League Baseball could have handled the situation more effectively,” Manfred said. “For example, in retrospect, a security person should have been assigned to monitor Mr. Turner when he was asked to isolate, and Mr. Turner should have been transported from the stadium to the hotel more promptly.”
Turner also issued a statement he said describes what his “state of mind” was when he was watching the end of the game and celebrations from a clubhouse doctor’s office with his wife.
“Winning the World Series was my lifelong dream and the culmination of everything I worked for in my career,” Turner said. “After waiting in the isolation room while my teammates celebrated on the field, I asked whether I was permitted to return to the field with my wife in order to take a photograph. I assumed by that point that few people were left on the field. I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field for a picture with my wife. However, what was intended to be a photo capturing the two of us turned into several greetings and photos where I briefly and unwisely removed my mask. In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field. I have spoken with almost every teammate, coach, and staff member, and my intentions were never to make anyone uncomfortable or put anyone at further risk.”