MLB won’t discipline Justin Turner, who issues apology – Press Enterprise
Major League Baseball concluded its investigation of Justin Turner’s behavior following his positive coronavirus test during the Dodgers’ World Series-clinching Game 6 victory and issued no discipline.
Turner, who is a free agent, issued a statement during which he says he was “blindsided” by the news of his positive COVID-19 test late in the game.
“I will not make excuses for my conduct, but I will describe my state of mind,” Turner wrote. “Winning the World Series was my lifelong dream and the culmination of everything I worked for in my career. After waiting in the isolation room while my teammates celebrated on the field, I asked whether I was permitted to return to the field with my wife in order to take a photograph. I assumed by that point that few people were left on the field. I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field for a picture with my wife. 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. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field. 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.”
Turner was pulled in the eighth inning of Game 6 on Oct. 27 after the Dodgers were notified of his positive test. His return to the field for the postgame celebration was widely questioned and criticized.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB’s investigation “revealed additional relevant information” including the fact that Turner’s teammates “actively encouraged” him to leave the isolation room and join the postgame celebration and “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.”
In a radio interview on Friday afternoon, Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy acknowledged that Turner’s teammates urged him to join them on the field for the post-game celebration while expressing anger over MLB’s original statement which reprimanded Turner for his behavior, saying he “refused to comply” with protocols.
“I thought what happened was an absolute joke. … I was pissed off about that. We were all pissed off about it,” Muncy said of MLB’s original rebuke of Turner.
“When we won, the entire team – the staff, the players, the coaches – were all yelling at him to come on the field. Even then, he was still saying, ‘Guys, it’s not a good idea. I shouldn’t do it.’ We kind of forced him out there and MLB allowed him. They said, ‘Yeah it’s fine. Go out there.’ And they still want to put it on him. I know they released a statement so it’s over and done with thankfully. But I still didn’t like that statement. MLB still didn’t take responsibility. … The way they worded it kind of really frustrated me. It’s not how it should happen. For them to try and attack that guy the way they did really pissed me off.”
The investigation did acknowledge that “an unidentified person” told Turner he was not the only player who tested positive, “creating the impression in Mr. Turner’s mind that he was being singled out for isolation.” In his statement, Manfred said a security person should have been assigned to monitor Turner once he was asked to isolate in a room near the clubhouse at Globe Life Field and then taken him to the team hotel “more promptly.”
Dodgers team president and CEO Stan Kasten called the incident “regrettable” and acknowledged Turner’s status as a team leader and positive force in the community.
“Through much hard work and sacrifice, the Dodgers were successful at preventing COVID-19 infections throughout a very difficult 2020 season,” Kasten’s statement said. “No player was more instrumental in allowing the Dodgers to overcome the adversity created by the pandemic than Justin Turner, as he set an example for his teammates and advocated for enhanced safety measures that went above and beyond league requirements. Justin’s leadership played a large part in helping the Dodgers safely complete the entire season, which culminated in a World Championship.
“While the events following the conclusion of the World Series were unfortunate, there is no question about who Justin Turner is, and what he means to his teammates, the Dodger organization and the City of Los Angeles.”