Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was removed from World Series Game 6 during the eighth inning in L.A.'s title-clinching victory on Tuesday night. After the game, it was announced that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19. It was MLB's first known positive test of the playoffs, and Turner was immediately removed from the game once the test result was known.
Turner had a test from Monday come back inconclusive in the second inning, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Once the lab completed running a test from Tuesday, MLB was informed Turner tested positive and immediately told the Dodgers that he had to come out of the game.
The Dodgers won Game 6, 3-1, and took the series over the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2. It is their first World Series title since 1988.
Turner tweeted after the game that he was asymptomatic and felt "great."
Thanks to everyone reaching out! I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys! So proud of this team & unbelievably happy for the City of LA#WorldSeriesChamps— Justin Turner (@redturn2) October 28, 2020
Shortly after the tweet, however, a masked Turner returned to the field and was carrying around the trophy while celebrating with teammates. He was next to manager Dave Roberts in front for the team picture with the trophy, and he even took off his mask at one point.
None of the teammates seemed upset.
Ken Rosenthal reported that Turner was told after the game specifically not to go on the field.
On Wednesday, MLB released a full statement in which they confirmed that they will be launching an investigation into Turner's situation. The league said Turner "put everyone he came in contact with at risk." Here's the statement:
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.
The league also announced that all members of the Dodgers' traveling party were tested Tuesday night as well as both the Rays and Dodgers undergoing tests again Wednesday. The league said that "their travel back to their home cities will be determined after being approved by the appropriate authorities."
According to Rosenthal, "league officials, league security personnel and some Dodgers officials spoke with Turner, asking him to remain in isolation" following the news of his positive test. Turner, however, "was adamant about wanting to join the celebration." He had the support of "at least some club officials" to return to the field, Rosenthal adds.
"We're going to get him a picture, then get him off (the field)," one Dodgers official told Rosenthal. "We can't deny him that. The guy is the heart and soul of the organization."
During the 60-game regular season, MLB had to postpone 43 games due to positive COVID tests. Two teams -- the Marlins and Cardinals -- had significant outbreaks in July and August that threatened their seasons. However, the league was able to complete the 60-game season and used neutral sites in the postseason to limit travel and exposure.
With the Turner news, it appears Major League Baseball dodged a serious bullet with the Dodgers closing things down and avoiding a Game 7.
In theory, the two teams could have just played Game 7 on Wednesday as scheduled, but at the very least -- in sticking consistently with how they did things in the regular season -- the Dodgers would've been forced to play without one of their best players in Turner. Then there would've been the issue on how often Turner was within six feet of teammates and opponents throughout the day. MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred would've absolutely had their hands full in answering questions on the matter of any contact tracing.
Turner's test was a jarring way to end what was possibly the weirdest season in baseball history.