The long and winding saga of Justin Turner has come to a close. In the final moments of the 2020 World Series and MLB season, Turner was removed from the game as the Dodgers went on to win their first title since 1988. He had tested positive for coronavirus. In the aftermath of the victory, Turner left isolation and returned to the field to celebrate with his team.
JT explained his actions in a statement, owning the fact that he should have used better judgement, but also that misinformation may have lead to his return. As such, an investigation lead by MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred has opted to not punish the Dodger third baseman for his actions.
Manfred released a statement on this case.
The basic facts are well known. Justin Turner was removed from the game and directed to isolate after a positive test for COVID 19. After the game concluded, Mr. Turner left isolation and joined the on-field celebration.
As is often the case, our investigation revealed additional relevant information that, while not exonerating Mr. Turner from responsibility for his conduct, helps put into context why he chose to leave the isolation room and return to the field. First, Mr. Turner’s teammates actively encouraged him to leave the isolation room and return to the field for a photograph. Many teammates felt they had already been exposed to Mr. Turner and were prepared to tolerate the additional risk. Second, Mr. Turner believes that he received permission from at least one Dodger’s employee to return to the field to participate in a photograph. Although Mr. Turner’s belief may have been the product of a miscommunication, at least two Dodgers employees said nothing to Mr. Turner as he made his way to the field, which they admitted may have created the impression that his conduct was acceptable. Third, during the somewhat chaotic situation on the field, Mr. Turner was incorrectly told by an unidentified person that other players had tested positive creating the impression in Mr. Turner’s mind that he was being singled out for isolation. Finally, Major League Baseball could have handled the situation more effectively. For example, in retrospect, a security person should have been assigned to monitor Mr. Turner when he was asked to isolate, and Mr. Turner should have been transported from the stadium to the hotel more promptly.
Mr. Turner has publicly recognized that his conduct was wrong and has expressed remorse for that conduct. I have spoken to him personally and I know that he is extraordinarily upset by the incident. By all accounts, Justin is a leader in the clubhouse, a contributor to his community and a responsible person who was instrumental in the Dodgers diligently following the health protocols all season long.
Staging a baseball season during the COVID 19 pandemic is an incredibly difficult undertaking and it required significant sacrifices and an enormous amount of work by players, club staff and the Commissioner’s Office. We all have made mistakes as we navigated these unprecedented challenges and have tried to learn from those mistakes so they are not repeated. With this in mind, I am closing this matter by applauding Justin for accepting responsibility, apologizing and making a commitment to set a positive example going forward.
Finally, I thank the millions of baseball fans for supporting the game in difficult times. As a way of giving back, MLB, through its clubs, will make its COVID 19 testing laboratory available this off season to perform testing in under-served areas in the communities we call home. We look forward to returning stronger in 2021.
Justin Turner’s integrity on and off the field has never been called into question. As Dodgers president Stan Kasten noted in a joint statement with Turner, the three-time nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award as Baseball’s top humanitarian “represents the best of the Dodger organization.”
Thankfully this case is now officially closed.