Turner exits early after positive COVID-19 test

July 28th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- departed Tuesday's 6-4 victory against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in the first inning after testing positive for COVID-19, per MLB protocols.

The 28-year-old shortstop legged out an infield single in the top of the frame, then went first-to-third on Juan Soto's ground-ball single to right field. Turner jogged home one batter later on Josh Bell's three-run homer, but he immediately went down the tunnel upon returning to the dugout.

Turner then did not take the field in the bottom of the inning. Instead, Alcides Escobar slid over from second to shortstop, with Josh Harrison moving from left field to second and Gerardo Parra entering the game in left.

“I found out right after he had scored. I have to pull him right out of the game,” said manager Dave Martinez, who added that Turner is asymptomatic. “He goes into the protocol, he's gotta get isolated right away. Now, he'll get tested, and from there, we'll see what happens.

“As soon as I'm done here, I'll meet with the medical staff and see what will transpire next."

Turner's departure set off speculation on social media -- and in the Nationals’ dugout -- with Friday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline looming, but the All-Star shortstop remains a National. Turner is under team control through next season, with approximately $4.8 million remaining on his $13 million salary for this season. He is arbitration-eligible for 2022.

“When we saw it, we were just thinking about the Trade Deadline,” said Soto, who hit a three-run homer in the top of the second following Turner’s departure. “Then we just say, 'All right, now we have to keep playing baseball.'”

Nationals starter Erick Fedde had a similar thought after noticing his starting shortstop did not take the field behind him. Once the right-hander was notified of the actual reason for Turner’s absence, he was able to relate to the situation better than most.

Earlier this season, Fedde received word less than hour before the club’s May 19 game against the Cubs that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated and remained asymptomatic throughout his time away from the club.

Neither Martinez nor the Nationals specified whether Turner was vaccinated.

“I can't speak for him, but I know I went through just the shock of feeling fine -- I mean, Trea rounded the bases and looked good,” Fedde said. “Just one of those things. I'm sure he felt that same way and just wanted answers that, honestly, you can't get on where you got it and how it happened.”

Turner has once again been among the top all-around talents in the Majors this season. His 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases make him one of only two players -- along with Fernando Tatis Jr. -- with at least 15 homers and 20 steals.

“Like I said, we'll figure everything out, we'll have conversations with MLB moving forward,” Martinez said, “And hopefully, we get him back as soon as we possibly can.”