LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner won’t be sanctioned by the MLB for his conduct after testing positive for COVID-19 during Game 6 of the World Series.
MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred issued a joint statement Friday with Turner and the Dodgers about the investigation into how the third baseman was allowed to come out onto the field to take pictures with his team after they won the 2020 World Series. Turner had been pulled from Game 6 after the team was notified he tested positive for COVID-19.
“We have all made mistakes as we navigated these unprecedented challenges and have tried to learn from those mistakes so they are not repeated,” Manfred said in the statement. “With this in mind, I am closing the matter by applauding Justin for accepting responsibility, apologizing and making a commitment to set a positive example going forward.”
Manfred said the league investigation revealed Turner’s teammates had encouraged him to leave the isolation room and come back to the field because they felt they had already been exposed and were “prepared to tolerate the additional risk.” Turner also believed he got permission from at least one Dodger employee to participate in the team photo, and that at least two Dodgers employees said nothing to Turner as he made his way to the field, creating an impression that his conduct was acceptable.
The investigation found that the chaotic situation on the field was exacerbated by Turner being incorrectly informed by an unidentified person that other players had tested positive, which gave Turner the impression he was being singled out for isolation. Manfred also noted that a security person should have been assigned to monitor Turner when he was asked to isolate, and that he should have been taken to the team’s hotel more promptly.
“I have spoken to him personally and I know that he is extraordinarily upset by the incident,” Manfred said. “By all accounts, Justin is a leader in the clubhouse, a contributor to his community and a responsible person who was instrumental in the Dodgers diligently following the health protocols all season long.”
Turner, for his part, said the news of the positive test blindsided him and his wife Kourtney, who was also immediately removed from the wives/family section of the stadium. He described watching the conclusion of the game and his teammates celebrating from a doctor’s office in the back of the clubhouse as “surreal.”
“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,” Turner said in his statement. He said he thought few people were left on the field at that point, and team officials would not object to his taking a picture with his 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,” Turner said. “In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife.”
Turner says he has expressed sincere apologies to everyone on the field, every one of his teammates, coaches and team staff members.
Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten said the team is committed to better processes for future events after the “ultimately regrettable” events involving Turner, who he said set an example for his teammates and advocated for safety measures above and beyond league requirements.