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MLB rips Justin Turner for celebrating with Dodgers teammates after positive coronavirus test

"Turner's decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk," the organization said.

Major League Baseball chastised Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner on Wednesday for breaking isolation and celebrating a World Series title with his teammates after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Turner, 35, was mysteriously removed after the seventh inning of the Dodgers' 3-1 title-clinching victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night before MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred revealed his positive test, saying he had been "isolated to prevent spread."

But Turner was later seen celebrating on the diamond at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

"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," MLB said in a statement.

"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."

The positive test and Turner's on-field celebration apparently delayed the travel plans of both the Dodgers and the Rays, MLB said.

"Last night, nasal swabs were conducted on the Dodgers' traveling party," according to the MLB statement. "Both the Rays and Dodgers were tested again today and their travel back to their home cities will be determined after being approved by the appropriate authorities."

The Dodgers and their families were tested Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning, according to the team.

Those who tested negative both times were cleared to leave, and by early Wednesday evening, several Dodgers players, including 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger, first baseman Max Muncy, catcher Austin Barnes and Game 6 hero Mookie Betts, had touched down back in Los Angeles.

Turner and his wife remained in Texas.

Image: Tampa Bay Rays vs Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers holds the Commissioner's Trophy alongside his wife, Kourtney Pogue, after the Dodgers won the World Series in Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday.Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Turner's teammates appeared to support their veteran third baseman.

"Obviously, we feel awful for J.T. He's such a huge part of our team, is such a huge part of our team for such a long time now," star pitcher Clayton Kershaw said Wednesday morning on NBC's "TODAY" show.

"What I would tell him is that we won and they can't take that away from us. We'll get to celebrate at some point, I promise," Kershaw said.

For most of his on-field celebration, Turner was wearing a mask, although there were several instances when he wasn't covering his face, including during a team photo when he was seated next to manager Dave Roberts, 48, a survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma.

During the coronavirus-delayed season, players were tested every morning, with samples shipped to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Jordan, Utah. The results had been coming back early the next evening, a lag of more than 30 hours.

Turner's sample Monday was deemed inconclusive, MLB sources said, prompting the league to expedite testing of Tuesday's sample. That came back positive, and Turner was lifted from the game when Los Angeles took the field for the top of the eighth inning, MLB said.

Image: World Series-Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner poses for a picture with his wife, Kourtney Pogue, after the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series in Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday.Kevin Jairaj / Reuters

"It's not just about this one particular player who we hope stays well and doesn't get sick, and it's not just about the players he's near," Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said Wednesday.

"People need to see you doing the right thing and taking it seriously. Any time you test positive, the right thing to do is to stay isolated — despite these wonderful achievements that you want to celebrate, that you want to be part of."

She added: "People in the general public are doing this. They're missing weddings, missing achievements and funerals and losing jobs because they're staying home and following recommendations of the CDC. Everyone needs to be held to the same standards."

The Dodgers, Turner's agent and a representative for the players union couldn't be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

The team downplayed Turner's breaking isolation Tuesday night, saying his teammates were already among those who would be subject to contact tracing.

"I think that's absolutely ridiculous," NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar said. "That argument does not fly. Your risk has to do with the number of human interactions you have, the duration of that exposure and the proximity of that exposure. So it's just a numbers game. Statistically, the more time you spend around someone who's positive, the greater the likelihood or the risk is that you yourself will test positive. So that doesn't work."