Whatever happens to the Dodgers’ Justin Turner for his breach of COVID-19 protocols during last week’s championship celebration the night he tested positive, one prominent member of the team hopes it doesn’t become viewed as the defining moment of the free agent’s Dodger career.
“I don’t think he was out there trying to do any ill harm,” said Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior, the former Cubs All-Star pitcher. “It’s a very unique situation. And hopefully people will move on and remember what he is and what he has done for this organization and, to be honest, baseball in general. I think he epitomizes what a ballplayer is, shows up for work every single day and is a great teammate.”
MLB promised a “full investigation” into Turner’s actions after he was pulled from the decisive Game 6 against the Rays in the eighth inning and isolated after the result of a followup test to an earlier inclusive test came back positive during the game.
After the Dodgers won the game — to claim their first World Series championship in 32 years — Turner broke quarantine rules and joined teammates on the field for the celebration, at times removing his mask.
Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported this week that MLB and the players union are “moving closer to a resolution” on possible discipline — which, in theory, will impact the 2017 All-Star third baseman’s market this winter, if he’s hit with a 2021 suspension.
“Again, it was a weird, chaotic — not your typical celebration by any means,” Prior said during a conversation this week on the Cubs Talk Podcast. “I think sometimes it gets portrayed that he was barging out and was running on the field. He kind of walked out a little sheepishly… [and] reserved.
“I think everybody was happy to see him, but he also knew what his place was and where he should be,” Prior added.
Turner has been out of the spotlight since the night of the incident, raising questions over his health since the diagnosis.
“I think he’s doing fine,” Prior said. “I’ve texted with him a couple times saying congratulations and then just kind of checking in on him as a friend, as a coach. Obviously, I don’t work with him directly, but J.T.’s the heart of our team. He’s been the heart of our organization.”