What I’m Hearing: Our MLB insider Bob Nightengale breaks down what’s next for the Dodgers and Justin Turner after it was found he had a positive COVID-19 test during the clinching game of the World Series.
Many on the East Coast had already turned off their televisions when Fox announcer Kevin Burkhardt informed viewers during the network’s World Series post-game coverage that Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Dodgers had clinched the final out of the 2020 World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays in a 3-1 come-from-behind victory in Game 6 hardly 15 minutes earlier.
The orange-bearded veteran had assumed his usual post for Game 6, batting third and playing third. But by game’s end, he was in isolation. That didn’t stop him from returning to the Globe Life Field’s diamond to celebrate.
BLACK EYE: MLB’s season of sacrifice ends with galling breach of protocol
‘UNFORTUNATE ENDPOINT’: Dodgers’ win marred by Justin Turner’s return to field for celebration
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner came out onto the field to celebrate the World Series despite being removed earlier in the game because of a positive COVID-19 test. (Photo: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports)
Here’s what we know about Turner’s positive test, as it unfolded in real time.
Turner leaves World Series Game 6
Major League Baseball created a soft bubble for its expanded postseason to combat the threats posed by a global pandemic — players and quarantined families not allowed to leave their hotels, by and large, plus daily testing. Until Tuesday, the process proved successful; the league hadn’t reported a positive coronavirus test in 58 days, covering the final month of the regular season, too.
How the virus penetrated MLB’s setup remains unknown. All that has been reported is Turner’s test from Monday came back inconclusive during the second inning Tuesday. MLB instructed the lab it uses in Utah to expedite his Tuesday morning test (saliva), according to ESPN and the Wall Street Journal, which confirmed a positive.
By that point, Turner had taken his position at third base for the seventh inning. When the eighth began, Edwin Rios took his place, recording a putout, and Kiké Hernandez batted in Turner’s place in the bottom half.
Dodgers win 2020 World Series
Around 11:36 p.m. ET, the Dodgers won their first title in 32 years. Turner, who had been a part of six straight postseason heartbreaks with the Dodgers since 2014, wasn’t on the field.
Fox says Turner has coronavirus
By 11:50 p.m., Burkhardt — set to host Fox’s post-game coverage with analysts David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas — explained Turner left the game because he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Turner tweets about positive test
As the Dodgers continued hugging one another and smiling, Turner tapped out a tweet from his apparent isolation at 12:28 a.m. (He was not made available to reporters for comment.)
“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.”
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
Turner returns to field for celebration
Less than 20 minutes later, Fox cameras showed Turner had returned to the field to join the team picture in front of the championship trophy. Turner sat next to manager Dave Roberts, a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, and removed his mask, even hugging some teammates.
“All I know is I had to take him out of the game in the seventh inning, which was crazy,” Roberts told Burkhardt in an interview. “And he tested positive. … He was in the team picture. I didn’t touch him, just because I didn’t know. It was really crazy and I was really disappointed that, obviously with that, he couldn’t be out here to celebrate with us.”
Turner ignores MLB’s isolation request
According to The Athletic, MLB security personnel and some Dodgers officials asked Turner to remain isolated, while other club officials supported Turner’s desire to join the celebration. There was little social distancing during his time on the field, although Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters Turner stayed away from those he hadn’t already had close contact with: “I don’t think there was anyone that was going to stop him from going out (to the field),” Friedman said in a video call with reporters.
He also had the support of teammates Mookie Betts and Corey Seager, who said: “That man, more than anybody, deserves to take a picture with that trophy, celebrate with us, have his family around and enjoy this moment. That got taken away from him, and that’s just not right. That doesn’t sit well with me.”
Dodgers, families likely will have to pass tests
What’s next for Turner and the rest of the Dodgers? Friedman expects those in the Dodgers’ quarantine group will have to remain in Texas and pass an undetermined number of tests before departing the sequester.
“The fact that we were all in a bubble together means that from a contact-tracing standpoint, we’re all in that web,” Friedman said. “Now it’s important that we all test negative however many times or whatever the protocols are to make sure that we don’t go out and potentially spread it to other people.”
Dodgers will celebrate ‘at later date’
The Dodgers, in a statement that offered no update on Turner or the results of Wednesday’s tests for other members of the team, said they plan on having a grand celebration with “the best fans in baseball” when it is “safe to do so.”
The Dodgers just issued this statement regarding a celebration. pic.twitter.com/vwmkcEfIqM
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) October 28, 2020
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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