LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Dodgers won their seventh World Series and first since 1988 on Tuesday night but they did so without third baseman Justin Turner on the field for the final few innings after it was determined he had tested positive for COVID-19. Turner was supposed to go into isolation and remain there, but according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Turner refused and he had the support of some club officials.
“League officials, league security personnel and some Dodgers officials spoke with Turner, asking him to remain in isolation” following the news of his positive test. Turner, however, “was adamant about wanting to join the celebration.” He had the support of “at least some club officials” to return to the field, Rosenthal wrote.
The fact that Turner was on the field in the first place has come under some question. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported, Turner’s COVID-19 test on Monday came back inconclusive. When the lab ran the tests from Tuesday, the confirmed the positive and informed MLB.
In the second inning tonight, the lab doing COVID tests informed MLB that Justin Turner’s test from yesterday came back inconclusive. The samples from today had just arrived and were run. It showed up positive. The league immediately called the Dodgers and said to pull Turner.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 28, 2020
As Craig Calcaterra pointed out in a Twitter thread this morning, the bigger issue isn’t so much that Turner returned to the field to celebrate with the team after winning the World Series. It’s that he was allowed to continue to play after the team was informed in the second inning of the inconclusive test.
The big takeaway is NOT just that just that Justin Turner joined the celebration after his positive COVID test. It's that he played in the game for many innings after getting an inconclusive test. Per all competent protocols, an inconclusive test should be treated as positive.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) October 28, 2020
We have already seen this season in the NFL that an inconclusive test will often shut down a team’s facility until the following day. Clearly, it would have been hard for MLB to completely stop the game and no one is asking that they did that. But, allowing Turner to continue to play seems to run counter to protocols.
Teammate Mookie Betts expressed no concern about Turner being out on the field after the game.
#Dodgers Mookie Betts was asked about Justin Turner being on field for photos: "He's part of the team. Forget all that. He's part of the team. We're not excluding him from anything."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 28, 2020
But, for many, the question was how or why Turner was allowed back on the field, to then take a maskless photo, after the game.
Justin Turner was pulled from the game for testing positive for COVID-19. Now's he's sitting maskless taking photos on the field??? pic.twitter.com/uGkdBKOG3K
— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) October 28, 2020
Keith Olbermann, a long-time Sportscenter anchor and baseball aficionado called for the Dodgers to have forfeited Game 6.
DESPITE a positive Covid-19 test, Justin Turner continued to play for five innings before being removed. DESPITE a second positive he returned to the field and embraced teammates and removed his mask.
The Dodgers should forfeit Game 6. https://t.co/PqozpaspGl
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 28, 2020
Several others pointed out that Turner was positioned for the photograph next to manager Dave Roberts, a cancer survivor.
The man to Justin Turner’s right is a cancer survivor. JT tested inconclusive for COVID-19 Monday & positive Tuesday. He was asked not to go on field to celebrate, but insisted on it. I don’t get how the Dodgers or MLB will talk their way out of this one. pic.twitter.com/OpYDBmc02c
— Allie Berube (@allieberube) October 28, 2020
General manager Andrew Friedman, when asked about the optics of Turner being on the field for the celebration following the positive test told reporters that while he understood the question, most of the players and coaches on the field would have been in the contract tracing protocol anyway.
“I haven’t seen the pictures. I totally understand the question. If there are people around him without masks, that’s not good optics at all. … But I think from our standpoint, I think the people who were around him were the people that would be in the contact tracing web anyway, which is how closely a lot of us have been around each other. Now I think subsequent tests we’re going to take are really important to figure out what we do and to make sure any of us that are potentially positive do not spread it to other people.”
The Dodgers are going to undergo further testing following the positive result for Turner. But, the handling of the situation has raised eyebrows and cast a shadow over an otherwise joyous occasion of the Dodgers ending their World Series drought.