The Los Angeles Dodgers’ joy over winning the World Series on Tuesday night was overshadowed when Justin Turner, the team’s veteran third baseman, joined his teammates in celebration on the field shortly after learning he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Dodgers had pulled Turner, 35, from the game when they learned of his positive test before the eighth inning, but later he was seen on the field, kissing his wife, holding the World Series trophy, and hugging and talking to teammates — sometimes with a mask, sometimes without. And he took his place at the center of a team photograph, sitting between Manager Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations — none of whom wore a face covering.
Turner’s return to the field, which occurred right in front of Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s commissioner, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, raised questions about how the league had allowed such a public lapse in its coronavirus protocols and drew widespread criticism from experts in epidemiology.
M.L.B. said on Wednesday afternoon that it would investigate the incident, but placed the blame squarely on Turner, saying he had refused the orders of league security to remain in isolation.
“Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him,” M.L.B. said in a statement.
“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 M.L.B. Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”
According to Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, the fact that the team knew to pull Turner from the game should have been sufficient reason to keep him off the field for celebrations, especially as he could have exposed more people to the virus than he had before.
Multiple news media reports said that Turner’s test from Monday had come back “inconclusive” during the second inning of Tuesday’s game. That led the league to expedite processing Turner’s test from Tuesday morning, which came back positive.
“The test result should be back before they started playing,” said Dr. Abraar Karan, a global health researcher at Harvard Medical School. “That’s the whole point of testing to begin with.”