ARLINGTON, Texas — Major League Baseball was just two innings away from pulling off an upset, completing its 2020 season in the middle of a global pandemic.
But then came the phone call that changed everything.
Commissioner Rob Manfred got the telephone call that Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately telephoned Dodgers owner Mark Walter and president Andrew Friedman, and ordered them to get Turner off the field quickly as possible.
Turner was removed and ordered to stay in isolation in a room outside the clubhouse. The game wrapped up, the World Series trophy celebration commenced and Manfred left the field, only for Turner to return and join the celebration.
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Turner took pictures holding the trophy, hugged teammates, and even was in the front row of the team picture, with no mask, sitting alongside manager Dave Roberts, a cancer survivor.
“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,” MLB said in a statement released Wednesday.
“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.”
It’s still unknown how Turner contracted the virus after being in a soft bubble with teammates for three weeks in a Dallas hotel with the Tampa Bay Rays, but MLB is launching a full investigation.
“We really don’t know yet,’’ Manfred told USA TODAY Sports. “I prefer not to speculate. It’s important for us to trace obviously what the health situation is, and whoever was in the hotel, before turning them loose to travel.