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Justin Turner left the World Series clincher after testing positive for coronavirus

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner celebrates the team's World Series championship with his wife.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner and wife, Kourtney Pogue, celebrate the team’s World Series championship on the field after Game 6 on Tuesday. Turner left the game early after testing positive for coronavirus.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

With the Dodgers two innings from the World Series championship, the team removed third baseman Justin Turner from the game for no apparent reason.

The explanation came after the game: Turner had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We learned during the game,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told Fox. “He was immediately isolated to prevent spread.”

Not long after, Turner said on Twitter that he felt “great” and had “no symptoms at all.”

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Said Turner: “Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys!”

The Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6 of the World Series to win their first championship since 1988.

However, as manager Dave Roberts acknowledged in an interview on Fox, Turner did participate briefly in the on-field celebration, and in the team picture the Dodgers took to commemorate the championship.

“I didn’t touch him,” Roberts said.

Players were tested daily inside the postseason bubble, and no major leaguer had tested positive during that time. In the early innings of Tuesday’s 3-1 win, league officials learned that Turner’s test from Monday had turned up inconclusive.

Inconclusive tests are not uncommon. However, because the Dodgers already had been tested Tuesday, the league ordered that the result of Turner’s test be expedited. Individual test results can be obtained more quickly than the results for an entire team.

As soon as the league learned that Turner tested positive Tuesday, the Dodgers were ordered to remove him immediately.

Roberts said one of the team’s athletic trainers relayed the order after the seventh inning.

“At that point in time, I was still trying to manage a game,” Roberts said. “I haven’t seen Justin yet. That’s all I know.”

Andrew Friedman, Dodgers president of baseball operations, was asked why Turner went onto the field during the team’s postgame celebration.

“I think for him, being a free agent, not knowing exactly how the future is gonna play out, I don’t think anyone was gonna stop him from going [onto the field],” Friedman said. “From my perspective, I think he was mindful of other people.

“This is something we’re gonna wrap our arms around tonight and in the morning and figure out where we’re going from here. It was a really unfortunate end point of this incredible series and definitely affected some of the joy from winning because of how much JT has meant to us and him not being able to be on the field for that final out, with everything he’s done for this organization.

“We’re gonna all take tests and figure out what the results are from that and go from there.”

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash’s modern-baseball by-the-book decision to remove Black Snell in the sixth inning led to a Dodgers rally and then a title.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, the World Series most valuable player, said he was speechless when Turner was told to leave the dugout.

“You don’t even really know what to ask,” Seager said. “To have that happen to a guy like that — a dude that reinvented himself when he came here, what he’s meant to this organization, what he’s meant to this franchise, what he’s meant to this community — to take that away from him, it’s gut-wrenching. It hurts me. I can’t imagine how he feels.”

Seager said Turner, more than anyone on the team, deserved to enjoy the moment.

“That got taken away from him,” Seager said. “That’s just not right. That doesn’t sit well with me.”

The Dodgers’ immediate plans to fly home were put on hold. The league is conducting a contact-tracing investigation, and the team was scheduled for additional rounds of testing late Tuesday night and again Wednesday. The league plans to review the results and determine whether the infection has spread within the team before working with the Dodgers on a plan to return to Los Angeles.

As the regular season went on, a primary lesson the league learned from the outbreak on the Miami Marlins: Shut down a team for a few days upon one positive test and rule out an outbreak, rather than keep playing and risking one.

If the Tampa Bay Rays had won Tuesday, forcing a Game 7, a league official said MLB would have reviewed the additional test results and consulted with its medical advisors Wednesday morning, then decided whether Game 7 would have been played as scheduled Wednesday night.

“Thankfully,” the official said, “it’s one decision we will not have to deal with.”


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