Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was removed from World Series Game 6 during the eighth inning in L.A.’s title-clinching victory on Tuesday night. After the game, it was announced that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19. It was MLB‘s first positive test of the playoffs, and Turner was immediately removed from the game once the positive test result was known.
Turner had a test from Monday come back inconclusive in the second inning, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Once the lab completed running a test from Tuesday, MLB was informed Turner tested positive and immediately told the Dodgers that he had to come out of the game.
The Dodgers won Game 6, 3-1, and took the series over the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2. It is their first World Series title since 1988.
Turner tweeted after the game that he was asymptomatic and felt “great.”
Shortly after the tweet, a masked Turner returned to the field and was carrying around the trophy while celebrating with teammates. He was next to manager Dave Roberts in front for the team picture with the trophy and he even took off his mask at one point.
None of the teammates seemed upset.
Ken Rosenthal reported that Turner was told after the game specifically not to go on the field.
According to Rosenthal, “league officials, league security personnel and some Dodgers officials spoke with Turner, asking him to remain in isolation” following the news of his positive test. Turner, however, “was adamant about wanting to join the celebration.” He had the support of “at least some club officials” to return to the field, Rosenthal adds.
“We’re going to get him a picture, then get him off (the field),” one Dodgers official told Rosenthal. “We can’t deny him that. The guy is the heart and soul of the organization.”
During the 60-game regular season, MLB had to postpone 43 games due to positive COVID tests. Two teams — the Marlins and Cardinals — had significant outbreaks in July and August that threatened their seasons. However, the league was able to complete the 60-game season and used neutral sites in the postseason to limit travel and exposure.
With the Turner news, it appears Major League Baseball dodged a serious bullet with the Dodgers closing things down and avoiding a Game 7.
In theory, the two teams could have just played Game 7 on Wednesday as scheduled, but at the very least — in sticking consistently with how they did things in the regular season — the Dodgers would’ve been forced to play without one of their best players in Turner. Then there would’ve been the issue on how often Turner was within six feet of teammates and opponents throughout the day. MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred would’ve absolutely had their hands full in answering questions on the matter of any contact tracing.
Turner’s test was a jarring way to end what was possibly the weirdest season in baseball history.