LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner will not be punished for returning to the field to celebrate the team’s World Series win after the third baseman tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from their title-clinching game, MLB said on Friday.
Turner exited the contest before the start of the eighth inning when the test result was conveyed to the team and told to isolate but returned to the field to celebrate and take photos while not wearing a mask, alarming many viewers.
MLB commissioner Robert Manfred said on Friday that Turner had expressed remorse for his actions but the player believed he had permission to return and that his team mates had encouraged him to do so, feeling they had already been exposed.
MLB also failed to send a security person to monitor Turner and transport him from the stadium in Texas to the hotel more promptly, Manfred added in a statement.
“We all have made mistakes as we navigated these unprecedented challenges and have tried to learn from those mistakes so they are not repeated,” Manfred said.
“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.”
A contrite Turner said he was blindsided by the test result and said it was “surreal” to be pulled from the field before realizing a lifelong dream only to watch his team mates celebrate on a TV from a doctor’s office in the stadium.
“I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field for a picture with my wife,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
The Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games late last month to end a 32-year title drought in a season shortened by the pandemic.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris)