One of the memorable images from the Los Angeles Dodgers' on-field World Series celebration was the smiling face of L.A. third-baseman Justin Turner, covered only by his beard.
As reported by ESPN, Turner had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to Tuesday's Game 6, leading to his removal from the L.A. lineup following the seventh inning. Turner was then quarantined in a doctor's office, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.
Turner later returned to the field wearing a mask to celebrate the Dodgers' title. He then took down his mask and posed for a team photo on the field and later refused instructions from security to leave the field, behavior that Major League Baseball said risked the safety of others. The commissioner's office said Wednesday that it was starting a full investigation of the 35-year-old player.
"Immediately upon receiving notice from the laboratory of a positive test, protocols were triggered, leading to the removal of Justin Turner from last night's game," MLB said in a statement Wednesday. "Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him. However, following the Dodgers' victory, it is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others. While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner's decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply."
Turner is subject to discipline under an agreement between MLB and the players' association on health and safety protocol. There is nothing specified in the agreement about the range of penalties. The commissioner's office said it would consult with the players' association as part of its investigation. The union was in the process of gathering facts on the events.
Turner has served as a player representative on the Major League Baseball Players Association executive board, and he spoke about the protocols on Sept. 29, one day before the Dodgers' postseason opener.
"Obviously, there's a lot of protocols and things that we're allowed to do and not allowed to do in getting tested every day, and I would say it's been a pretty successful season getting to this point and getting to the playoffs,'' he said then.
"I was probably in that category where I was optimistic that we were going to have a season, but there was definitely some doubt whether or not it was going to happen. So to be sitting here today watching playoff baseball as the American League kind of kicks off their wild-card round, I would say that we did a good job, and I commend everyone for taking it serious and being responsible and making good choices and allowing us to get to this point.''
He addressed the success of reaching the World Series despite the pandemic on Oct. 19, the day before Game 1.
"I think it's ultimately a testament to the players for being responsible and making good choices and doing everything that we had to do to ensure that the season was able to go on,'' he said. "So I tip my cap to every player who put the uniform on and took that risk of playing and was responsible about it and did it the right way and enabled us to have a full season and now be able to participate in a World Series.''
The Dodgers won their first World Series championship since 1988 with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field.