No punishment for L.A.’s Turner as he apologizes

  • Joined ESPN in 2016 to cover the Los Angeles Rams
  • Previously covered the Angels for MLB.com

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner will not be punished for returning to the field to celebrate his team’s championship despite testing positive for COVID-19, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Friday.

Turner, issuing a statement along with the league, explained his reason for leaving isolation but also took responsibility.

“I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field,” Turner wrote. “I have spoken with almost every teammate, coach and staff member, and my intentions were never to make anyone uncomfortable or put anyone at further risk.”

In his statement, Manfred said Turner was “actively encouraged” to leave his isolation room and return to the field moments after the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 27 to win their first World Series championship since 1988. Manfred’s statement also said Turner believed he received permission from at least one Dodgers employee and that an unidentified person incorrectly told him that other teammates had tested positive, “creating the impression in Mr. Turner’s mind that he was being singled out for isolation.”

Turner was removed from Game 6 of the World Series in the eighth inning after the Dodgers got word of Turner’s positive test. His wife, Kourtney, was then removed from the wives’ section at Globe Life Field. Turner wrote that he was “blindsided” by the news and that the two then watched the final couple of innings from a television inside a doctor’s office. He added that he and his wife returned to the field with the hope of taking a picture together.

“I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field for a picture with my wife,” Turner wrote. “However, what was intended to be a photo capturing the two of us turned into several greetings and photos where I briefly and unwisely removed my mask. In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife.”

MLB previously chided Turner for breaking protocol to join his teammates on the field, but Manfred acknowledged Friday that the league could have acted better by deploying a security guard to closely monitor Turner and then transporting him to the team hotel more promptly. Manfred also revealed that the testing lab MLB utilized in Utah throughout the season will now be used “to performing testing in underserved areas in the communities we call home.”

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