MLB rips Justin Turner for celebrating with teammates after positive coronavirus test
Turner, 35, was mysteriously removed after the seventh inning of Los Angeles’ 3-1 title-clinching victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night before MLB commissioner Rob Manfred revealed the player’s positive test, saying he’d been “isolated to prevent spread.”
But Turner was later seen celebrating on the diamond at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
“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,” MLB said in a statement.
“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 positive test and Turner’s on-field celebration has apparently delayed travel plans of both the Dodgers and Rays, MLB said.
“Last night, nasal swabs were conducted on the Dodgers’ traveling party,” according to the league statement. “Both the Rays and Dodgers were tested again today and their travel back to their home cities will be determined after being approved by the appropriate authorities.”
Turner’s teammates appeared to support their veteran third baseman.
“Obviously we feel awful for J.T. He’s such a huge part of our team, is such a huge part of our team for such a long time now,” Dodgers star and future Hall of Fame pitcher Clayton Kershaw told NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday morning.
“What I would tell him is that we won and they can’t take that away from us. We’ll get to celebrate at some point, I promise.”
For most of his on-field celebration, Turner was wearing a mask, though there were several instances when Turner was not covering his face, including during a team photo when he was seated next to 48-year-old manager Dave Roberts, a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
During this coronavirus-delayed MLB season, players have been tested every morning with samples shipped to a lab in Utah. The results have been coming back early evening the next day, a lag time of more than 30 hours.
Turner’s Monday sample was deemed inconclusive, MLB sources said, prompting the league to have testing on Tuesday’s sample expedited. That came back positive and Turner was lifted from the game, when Los Angeles took the field for the top of the eighth inning, according to MLB.
“It’s not just about this one particular player who we hope stays well and doesn’t get sick, and it’s not just about the players he’s near,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told NBC News on Wednesday.
“People need to see you doing the right thing and taking it seriously. Anytime you test positive, the right thing to do is to stay isolated — despite these wonderful achievements that you want to celebrate, that you want to be part of.”
She added: “People in the general public are doing this, They’re missing weddings, missing achievements and funerals and losing jobs because they’re staying home and following recommendations of the CDC. Everyone needs to be held to the same standards.”
A representative for the players union and Turner’s agent could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.