Tom Pennington/Getty Justin Turner and wife Kourtney Pogue
Justin Turner is offering an explanation for his decision to return to the field and take his mask off after testing positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) when the Dodgers won the World Series last month.
Turner, along with Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred and Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten, issued a statement Friday regarding his behavior.
The 35-year-old third baseman said that he was "blindsided" when he was pulled mid-game and told he had tested positive for COVID-19 and placed in isolation with his wife Kourtney.
"Watching the conclusion of the game, we experienced every emotion you could imagine — we were thrilled for my teammates, the Dodgers organization and all of its fans, and the city of Los Angeles, but also sad and confused with so many questions about what we were just told," Turner said, calling it "surreal" to watch the trophy celebration from a doctor's office in the back of the clubhouse.
The Dodgers emerged victorious over the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on October 27, marking the first championship victory for the Los Angeles team since 1988.
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Justin Turner, wife Kourtney Pogue
"I will not make excuses for my conduct, but I will describe my state of mind," Turner explained, saying that winning the World Series has been his "lifelong dream" and the "culmination of everything I worked for in my career."
"After waiting in the isolation room while my teammates celebrated on the field, I asked whether I was permitted to return to the field with my wife in order to take a photograph," he said, saying he was "under the impression" that team officials were fine with it.
"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."
Major League Baseball has completed its investigation of the events following the Los Angeles Dodgers Victory in Game Six of the World Series. The following statements from MLB, Justin Turner, and the Dodgers were released today. pic.twitter.com/cVu1E6g7lT
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) November 6, 2020
"I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field. 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."
Kasten said in his statement that the "events" involving Turner during the World Series celebrations "unfolded rapidly and chaotically, and were ultimately regrettable."
Kasten said that Turner was "instrumental" in advancing the team's safety protocols that went "above and beyond league requirements."
Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock Justin Turner
"While the events following the conclusion of the World Series were unfortunate, there is no question about who Justin Turner is, and what he means to his teammates, the Dodger organization and the city of Los Angeles," Kasten said.
Manfred said that the MLB's investigation found that miscommunications and mistakes were made that led to Turner returning to the field from isolation — and admitted that the league could "have handled the situation more effectively."
"For example, in retrospect, a security person should have been assigned to monitor Mr. Turner when he was asked to isolate, and Mr. Turner should have been transported from the stadium to the hotel more promptly."
Ultimately, Manfred called the snafu a learning experience.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Dodgers players
"Staging a baseball season during the COVID-19 pandemic is an incredibly difficult undertaking and it required significant sacrifices and an enormous amount of work by players, club staff and the Commissioner's Office," Manfred's statement said. "We have all made mistakes as we navigated these unprecedented challenges and have tried to learn from those mistakes so they are not repeated."
"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."
Manfred concluded by saying the MLB "will make its COVID-19 testing laboratory available this off season to perform testing in under-served areas in the communities we call home."
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