When the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series since 1988, the final out was recorded without any franchise stalwarts — Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner — on the field.
Kershaw appearing in Game 6 wasn’t considered likely, and Jansen remained in the bullpen as Julio Urias was dominant in yet another postseason relief appearance. Meanwhile, Turner was taken out at the start of the eighth inning.
There wasn’t a reason given and it later was reported his removal was due to a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test. That required Edwin Rios to take over at third base in a situation he couldn’t have anticipated.
Rios reflected on the surprising development and explained his shock upon learning Turner was forced into isolation, via MLB Network Radio:
“Usually the guys on the bench, we start moving around inthe fourth or fifth inning. Just moving around, on the bike, hitting in the cage. Luckily, I was somewhat warm. Some of my teammates came running into the cage while I was hitting and were like, ‘Hey, you’re going to third.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I thought it was a sick prank. Like, ‘What’s going on? It’s not the time to be playing jokes. The game is still 2-1. I started looking around and everybody was really serious.
“I’m like, ‘What’s going on? Is J.T. hurt?’ All these things are going through my head. Once I go out to the dugout, Doc’s like, ‘Hey, you’re in at third,’ and that’s when he told me. I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’ I didn’t have time to process everything and what was going on. I just went straight into lock-in mode. … Just an unreal feeling of being out there. Being out there for that last out and being able to celebrate with the guys is a feeling I’ll never forget.”
Two batters into playing the field, Rios had a ball hit to him. It was his only play, and he took care of the grounder cleanly. Rios appeared in seven postseason games, logging 14 at-bats and hitting two homers.
Rios focused on improving at third base
Rios benefitted from the National League adopting the designated hitter this season and his work at third base. It’s a position he hopes to settle in at for his career.
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