Former Brisbane Bandits national league player Josh Roberts is enjoying a new lease of life with the Melbourne Aces.
Former Brisbane Bandits national league player Josh Roberts is enjoying a new lease of life with the Melbourne Aces. Kate Czerny

Josh Roberts an ace against former team

JUST a year ago, outfielder Josh Roberts thought his career in the Australian Baseball League was over.

The Ipswich Musketeers star was released from the Brisbane Bandits after captaining the team the previous summer.

And after being selected in the Australia squad which took on the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks in some historic games at the SCG in early 2014, it was a massive fall from grace for the 29-year-old.

But he could have a second chance after the Melbourne Aces came knocking.

Roberts starred for the Aces against the Bandits in the four-game series in Brisbane last weekend, coming up with four hits from 14 at-bats.

His immediate future is still unsure, as he is still only listed as a reserve on the Aces' roster.

Roberts has not moved to the Victorian capital.

But it's a big improvement from 12 months ago.

That was when Roberts was disillusioned after being released from the Bandits' roster.

He said new head coach at the time, David Nilsson, cut him because he thought his shoulder was not up to scratch.

But Roberts - also a star for Norths in the Ipswich Rugby League A-grade competition - maintained his shoulder was fine.

He's now happy to call himself an Aces player, even if it might not be on a regular basis.

"What's going on over there (at the Bandits) I don't really agree with, so I'm happy to be over here with a bunch of good guys," Roberts said.

"It seemed to me at times they were just handing out Bandits uniforms, and that's not what I thought (playing for the Bandits) was all about.

"The shoulder wasn't the problem. It got through a footy season, so I was sure it could've got through a baseball season."

Another former Bandits skipper, Brad Dutton, was deemed surplus to requirements by Nilsson last summer.

But the first Australian to play in an All-Star game in the Major League, has had success as coach of the Brisbane team this summer, his team in second place going into this round against the Perth Heat.

Nilsson also admitted the chemistry and cohesiveness among his squad wasn't where it should have been before the start of this season, and believes he's changed that this summer, bringing in his own coaching staff.

With his ABL future uncertain after his team's disappointing 3-1 series defeat to his former club last round, Roberts said he just wanted to help the Aces climb off the bottom of the ABL ladder.

He has no issues with the Melbourne head coach either.

The Aces are managed by American Joe Vavra this season, who has Major League mentoring experience with the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins.

"It was just about playing this series (against the Bandits last weekend), and see how we go from there," Roberts said about his future.

"The way he (Vavra) talks to guys is good - he is a good manager.

"I've seen a lot of good things here - it's just a few little improvements we need here and there. But we've got a lot of talent, so anything can happen.

"It'd be nice for me to jump on board and hopefully win a few games."



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