Alabama outfielder Chandler Taylor and pitcher Deacon Medders will be suspended for the Crimson Tide’s season-opening series against Valparaiso this weekend for an unspecified violation of team rules. Head coach Brad Bohannon announced the suspension on Tuesday.
“Those guys have been great in preseason, really excited about both of them and expect them to be a huge part of our team success this year,” Bohannon said. “That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Taylor was Alabama’s only All-SEC player in 2017. He hit .282 and led the team with 16 home runs and 34 RBIs. He improved in SEC play, hitting .295 with 10 home runs. He played in 110 of 112 games in his first two seasons, starting 108 of them.
Taylor was drafted in the 27th round by the Minnesota Twins last summer but chose to return to school for his junior season. Alabama will have to replace his bat in the middle of the order this weekend.
“Hunter Alexander is the first guy that comes to mind,” Bohannon said. “He’s been really good in the preseason. Cody Henry hit eight home runs last year. Matt Malkin is a guy that can run the ball out of the ballpark. It’s a strength of our club, that we do have some strength offensively.”
Medders, a sophomore righty from ACA in Tuscaloosa, was a candidate to start the series finale on Sunday. He’s expected to play a significant role on Alabama’s pitching staff this season, whether as a weekend starter, midweek starter or a top arm out of the bullpen. He had a 4.38 ERA with a 2-1 record in 15 games as a freshman last season.
Pitching depth is a concern for Alabama this season. UA will throw junior Sam Finnerty on Friday night and senior Jake Walters on Saturday, but has a shortage of experienced relievers.
“Depth (for pitching) is a challenge for every college team the first weekend,” Bohannon said. “Your starters aren’t in condition to pitch really deep into the game. I would expect darn near everyone on our staff to get a chance to pitch in the first four or five games.”
Both players are expected to return to the team after this weekend.
“If we don’t get any surprises, they’ll be ready to rock and roll on Tuesday,” Bohannon said.