Major League Baseball will not punish Justin Turner, who tested tested positive for the coronavirus during the World Series, for returning to the field to celebrate the championship with his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates, the league announced Friday.
MLB investigators found that Turner thought he had received permission from at least one Dodgers employee to join his teammates on the field on October 27 after Los Angeles defeated Tampa Bay four games to two, Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
Turner also was “actively encouraged” to leave an isolation room and join teammates for a photograph, the commissioner said.
“Many teammates felt they had already been exposed to Mr. Turner and were prepared to tolerate the additional risk,” Manfred said.
Turner apologized in a statement.
“I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field,” he said. “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.”
He also said he should have waited until his teammates had cleared the field before returning for a photo to celebrate his first World Series win and the first for the franchise in 32 years.
The commissioner said he thought Turner, a third baseman who hit .320 in the World Series and is a free agent, showed remorse for his actions.
“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.”
The commissioner said the league could have handled the situation better by having someone stay with him and having him taken back to the team’s hotel sooner. Dodgers President Stan Kasten said Friday that while events “unfolded rapidly and chaotically,” they will improve the way they handle similar events in the future.
MLB has said the team did contact tracing after the final game and followed quarantine measures. There were no other positive tests announced.
Initially Turner stayed away
Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, hosted the World Series. Turner left the final game in the sixth inning and spent the final two innings in a doctor’s office near the clubhouse.
Turner initially didn’t join his teammates on the field for the post-game celebrations and tweeted: “Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys!” He also said he felt great and had no symptoms.
However, he did eventually return to the field to celebrate, hugging his teammates, posing for photos with the roster and at times not wearing a mask.
CNN’s David Close, Jill Martin and Matias Grez contributed to this report.