When the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the 2020 World Series championship last week, the on-field celebration was marred by Justin Turner's. Turner was removed from the Game 6 clincher after testing positive for COVID-19, yet he returned to the field for the celebration, and was photographed maskless and in close proximity with teammates at times.
The collectively bargained COVID-19 protocols forbid players from leaving the isolation area following a positive test, a protocol Turner broke, prompting commissioner Manfred to release a strongly worded statement the following day:
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.
MLB and the MLBPA are close to a resolution on Turner, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. It's unclear whether he will be disciplined, but, as Rosenthal notes, there are several questions that have to be answered. How did Turner become infected? Was he showing symptoms (he says no)? Did Turner infect anyone else? So on and so forth.
No player has been formally disciplined for breaking the league's COVID-19 protocols, however Cleveland did place Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac on the restricted list and later demote them to the alternate site after they went out while the team was in Chicago. That came after the two were reportedly chewed out by teammates during a team meeting.
Turner would not be disciplined for contracting COVID-19, of course. He would be disciplined for breaking protocol and going back out onto the field. It's not just his teammates he could've infected. There were family members and camera people and employees handing out championship hats and shirts on the field, among others. They were all at risk as well.
There is no known timetable for MLB and the MLBPA to reach a resolution on Turner. Turner, 36 later this month, became a free agent following the World Series. Our R.J. Anderson ranked him the No. 7 player in the free agent class.