Rob Manfred won’t punish Justin Turner for leaving solitary confinement after testing positive for COVID-19

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Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner will not be penalized for returning to the field to celebrate his team’s championship after testing positive for COVID-19. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred released a lengthy statement last Friday – alongside that of Turner and the other from Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten – in which he set out the findings investigation and also took some responsibility.“We all made mistakes in facing these unprecedented challenges and tried to learn from those mistakes so they weren’t repeated,” Manfred wrote. “With that in mind, I close this case by applauding Justin for accepting his responsibilities, apologizing and making a commitment to lead by example going forward. “

The Dodgers were told at the end of the World Series 6 game on October 27 that Turner’s previously inconclusive test had come back positive, prompting his withdrawal to start the eighth inning. His wife, Kourtney, was also removed from the family section of Globe Life Field. Turner wrote that he was “blinded” by the news and that the two watched the final two innings from a TV inside a doctor’s office at the back of the clubhouse. Moments after the Dodgers sealed their victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, Turner asked if he could return to the field with his wife for a photo.

“I assumed at that point that there were few people left in the field,” Turner wrote. “I had the impression that the team officials did not object to my return to the field for a photo with my wife. However, what was meant to be a photo capturing the both of us turned into several greetings and photos where I briefly and recklessly removed my mask. Looking back, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take this photo with my wife. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for not understanding the risks of returning to the field. I spoke with almost every teammate, coach and staff, and my intentions were never to make anyone feel uncomfortable or put anyone in danger. ”

Manfred said his teammates “actively encouraged” Turner to leave his isolation room and return to the pitch, adding that “many teammates felt they had already been exposed” and were willing to tolerate additional risks. . Manfred’s statement also said Turner believed he had received permission from at least one Dodgers employee and that an unidentified person had falsely told him that other teammates had tested positive, “creating the impression in Mr. Turner’s mind that he was isolated for seclusion. ”

MLB had previously berated Turner for breaking protocol, adding that Turner “flatly refused to comply” when asked to leave the field. But Manfred admitted on Friday that the league “could have handled the situation more effectively” by assigning a security guard to closely monitor Turner and quickly transporting him to the team hotel.

“Mr. Turner publicly admitted his conduct was bad and expressed remorse for that conduct,” Manfred wrote. “I have spoken to him personally and know that he is extremely upset by the incident. Clearly, Justin is a clubhouse leader, a contributor to his community and a responsible person who has been instrumental in the Dodgers by diligently monitoring health. protocols throughout the season. ”

Turner, 35, publicly criticized Manfred during the first iteration of spring training for referring to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal” in the wake of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. After the coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the season, Turner, as the representative of the Dodgers players, then spent several weeks immersed in protracted and often bitter negotiations between the MLB and the MLB Players Association. When the season finally resumed and epidemics on other teams threatened its sustainability, Turner helped tighten protocols within the Dodgers club and served as a critical voice to hold players accountable.

“Justin’s leadership played a big role in helping the Dodgers end the season safely, which culminated in a world championship,” Kasten wrote in the statement. “While the events following the conclusion of the World Series have been unfortunate, there is no doubt who Justin Turner is and what he means to his teammates, the Dodger organization and the city of Los Angeles. ”

Originally obtained through a minor league contract in February 2014, Turner has established himself as one of the most productive third baseman in the game and has grown into one of the Dodgers’ most important members over the past seven years, setting the tone for their striking philosophy and emerging as one of their key leaders. Turner – a Lakewood, Calif. Product who grew up as a Dodgers fan – has also been active in the community. This World Series, which saw him win 1,066 OPS while helping the Dodgers win their first championship in 32 years, was meant to be his crowning achievement – accomplished just before he ventured into the free agent market.

A positive test and a series of bad decisions have somewhat tarnished that. Turner was not on the field for the initial celebration, but came later. He first wore his mask and shared a long hug with Kenley Jansen, who tested positive for COVID-19 during the shutdown and exhibited prolonged symptoms. He then took a team photo without his mask, alongside Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was previously diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.

After the game, several Dodgers expressed their disappointment that Turner couldn’t be on the pitch with them.

“For it to happen to a guy like that, a guy who reinvented himself when he came here, what he meant to this organization, what he meant to this franchise, what he meant for this community, and take that away from them – – it’s heartbreaking, it hurts me, ”said Corey Seager, World Series MVP. “I can’t imagine what he’s feeling. If I could change places with him right now I would because this man more than anyone deserves to take a picture with this trophy, to celebrate with us, to have his family and to enjoy this moment, and that was taken away from him and that is not fair. That does not suit me. ”

Nasal swabs were taken for members of the Dodgers and Rays the night after the game and the following morning, with only one member of the Rays family who tested positive for COVID-19. The two teams returned to their respective cities later in the afternoon. Turner did not provide an update on his condition in his statement. His agent, Greg Genske, did not immediately respond to an investigation into the matter.

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