When Walker Buehler arrived down at the Dodgers bullpen heading into the eighth inning of his team's Game 6 World Series game, he passed on a message.
Third baseman Justin Turner was out of the game because he tested positive for COVID-19.
As Joe Kelly explained it on the Bradfo Sho podcast, "He said, ‘Hey, JT tested positive.’ We’re like ‘Shut up.’ And he’s like, ‘Look at third base. Why is he not out there?’ I said, ‘I don’t know bro. Stop playing some sick joke, we’re trying to win a World Series. We’re two innings away.’ He’s like, ‘I swear. He tested.’ And then I looked out at third base and he wasn’t there and I just believed him because I don’t feel like Walker would run down to the bullpen and start lying about that."
He wasn't lying, with Turner becoming the first Major League Baseball player to test positive for COVID throughout the previous six weeks.
So, what was Kelly's reaction to the news?
"I want to know who gave him the Corona," said the former Red Sox reliever. "If it’s a bubble how do you get the Corona in the bubble?"
His point? The bubble wasn't exactly air-tight, with no fault to players like Turner.
"It makes sense," Kelly said when asked if he was surprised somebody got the virus. "It’s a secure zone, but it was the first time in my life I have felt insecure. I was insecure in the secure zone."
The way Kelly dissected Major League Baseball's plan when it came to keeping the postseason players isolated in the Dallas-area hotel was telling.
"It wasn’t called the bubble. It was called the secure zone for people who don’t know," he said. "We were at a nice hotel, a beautiful hotel in Las Colinas and there is a golf course there and I happened to have a room, a villa, on the 18th green, which is pretty crazy because it’s a secure zone but my room I would say is no more than 20 yards from the green it’s still open to the public. So it’s a bubble except golfers are hitting golf balls next to my window and then crossing the secure zone tape line. People are yelling at them and the golfers are yelling back saying, ‘No, I’m going to get my ball.’ It wasn’t as secure as one might think because like I said there was still a golf course open to the public 20 yards away from us every single day.
"We weren’t allowed to play golf according to the rules and the tiers, but I saw a lot of golf clubs in the hotel. I know for facts that people staying in the hotel were playing golf that weren’t baseball players. It was media. It was on-field talents. Umpires. They were still allowed to play golf, but we weren’t because apparently the coronavirus knows baseball players should get it more than PR and hotel staff and umpires. It’s a smart virus."
He added, "It doesn’t make sense. Hotel staff say they come deliver room service. They’re supposed to leave it at the door and numerous times they come in the room and deliver your food and these hotel staff members go home every single day to their family and not stay at the hotel so how is it a secure zone or bubble?
"Yeah, we got lucky I feel like. If we weren’t aware as players to try and stay away from getting it and we let our guard down I’m sure it could have been more than just one."
As for the controversy surrounding Turner reappearing on the field for the postgame celebration despite his diagnosis, Kelly said his interaction with the infielder was brief.
"I saw him at the end. I was looking for him and I was like, ‘Man, this sucks that he can’t be a part of this.’ But, like I said, it was so chaotic," the pitcher recalled. "I didn’t see him until I was going back into the clubhouse. I walked by him, I walked right behind him and I pinched him right on the ass. I grabbed a good old handful of Justin Turner butt and squeezed it. He was was turned the other way. He had his facemask on. We didn’t have any contact of words. So I just gave him a little walk-by and grabbed him right on the right butt cheek and walked into the clubhouse, showered and got ready to go home.
"It doesn’t live on clothes on the butt, and he was turned the other way."