Sophomore outfielder Jay Gonzalez has been suspended indefinitely from the Auburn baseball team. Media relations associate director Daniel Froelich confirmed that Gonzalez has been suspended, but the team has declined comment at this time.
I don't think Auburn's baseball team can make it through an offseason with casualties. Whether they be self inflicted, transfers, or the MLB draft. Zach Alvord has transferred out. Now, Jay Gonzalez will miss the 2013 season. That's 72 runs, 114 hits and 64 RBIs that won't be returning to Auburn next year (if you are keeping track at home).
Is it a loss? Sure it is. Gonzo was a sparkplug at the top of the lineup and truly defined the table setter role of coach John Pawlowski's offense. His natural doppelganger, Bobby Andrews, struggled last year, and if Auburn wants to replicate Gonzo's effectiveness, it will either need to be from Ryan Tella (in a lead-off role where he may be more comfortable) or from a newcomer.
Sam Gillikin seems like a natural choice, and Gonzo's departure should leave little doubt that Gillikin's role for Auburn should be immediate.
A darkhorse could be Terrance Dedrick, especially with Dedrick's speed and slap style of hitting. It also means Rock Rucker will almost certainly crack the lineup. Auburn would still be in great shape in the outfield if it slotted Tella in center, Rucker in right and Gillikin in left.
On the surface, it looks like a big loss. Last year, Auburn only had six players listed as true outfielders -- Cullen Wacker, Bobby Andrews, Gonzo, Creede Simpson, Tella and Colton Davis -- and going into 2013 -- not counting the recruiting class -- Auburn will only return 50 percent of those -- Wacker, Tella, Andrews.
If anything, this opens up immediate playing time in the OF and makes it less crowded than was previously expected.