ARLINGTON, Texas – Major League Baseball said Wednesday it is opening an investigation into the actions of Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner after he was pulled from Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday night upon testing positive for the coronavirus.
Despite protocols in place, Turner emerged from isolation and participated in the postgame celebration after the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, to win the World Series for the first time since 1988.
Turner could be seen alternately wearing and not donning a mask while cavorting with teammates, even posing for a team picture in the front row next to manager Dave Roberts, a lymphoma survivor.
“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,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “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.”
Thus far, there has been no statement about the matter from the MLBPA, which did issue a list Wednesday of 147 players who are now free agents, including Turner and five other Dodgers.
MLB also said that all members of the Dodgers and Rays have been held in their bubble hotels, pending the results of widespread testing of all players, families and staff.
“Last night, nasal swabs were conducted on the Dodgers’ traveling party,” Manfred said. “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.”
Turner was pulled from the game in the eighth inning Tuesday night at Globe Life Field after the Dodgers learned he had tested positive. He was replaced by Edwin Rios.
Turner’s Monday test had come back from the lab as inconclusive. When he was retested Tuesday, the positive result occurred, and MLB was notified of the results.
“Immediately upon receiving notice from the laboratory of a positive test, protocols were triggered, leading to the removal of Turner from last night’s game,” Manfred said. “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.”
Every player in the bubble was tested daily according to protocols and as of last Friday, MLB and the union reported there had been no positives since the postseason started.
Overall, throughout the 60-game COVID-abbreviated regular season when teams traveled regionally and were not subject to bubble conditions, the parties said that 91 of 172,740 testing samples had turned up positive—57 players and 34 staff members.
The Dodgers have been in a bubble environment in Texas since Oct. 5, the eve of the National League Division Series, playing all their games at Globe Life Field.
MLB is conducting contract tracing to determine how Turner became infected.
(This story has been updated to correct the number of staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 this season.)