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Van der Linden can be Mr Versatile
All-rounder ready to take his game to the next level
10/24/2017 6:19 AM ET
Mr Versatile - Nathan van der Linden brings depth and athleticism to Adelaide's squad.
Mr Versatile - Nathan van der Linden brings depth and athleticism to Adelaide's squad. (Graphic - Amy Kershaw)

After breaking into the Adelaide roster as an 18-year-old in 2012, Nathan van der Linden found the path to consistent baseball at the professional level a difficult journey.

Now, aged 23, he is coming off a full season of ABL action and is ready to take his game to the next level after achieving his biggest goal in returning to the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks.

"Last year I just had the goal of doing whatever I could for the team," van der Linden said.

"Trying to make the team first of all because I had tried previous years and never made the actual playing roster, just always trained with them."

Thirty-four games later and van der Linden had proven his worth as a dependable fielder and even pitcher. In fact, some of his best work was on the mound, where he notched a 1.64 ERA from six relief appearances

"I felt pretty good about it, that's what I always tried to do, do the best I could," he said.

"My main position was the infield, or anywhere in the field, but I got the chance to pitch and did my best and luckily it worked out."

This season, Manager Chris Adamson expects to see van der Linden thrive across the field.

"Nathan was so valuable for us last year, whether it was in the outfield, infield or even on the mound," Adamson said.

"This year I expect more of the same in terms of where he plays, as he is more than capable in both the infield and outfield."

Local infield talent has always been a boost for the Bite when it comes to depth, while star imports have made second or short stop their own over the years, which makes it tough for some players such as van der Linden.

Last season saw him shine thanks to his versatility and as the type of player you could place anywhere on the field he is the perfect athlete to have on a roster. While hits may have been sparse for the West Torrens product, his switch hitting Eagle has been working hard on making himself an even better player.

"I know the imports that come over play the infield and it's good to learn off them. All the young kids get to see their skills and I can push myself off them and see how I go," van der Linden explained.

"This offseason that's been my one goal: just trying to get my hitting to improve.

"I know I can do it, it's just the last couple of years I've been struggling and it's the one little problem in my game so we'll see what happens with that."

While he may have struggled in some areas, Adamson knows van der Linden will bring athleticism and baseball smarts, something which the younger players can learn from.

"He is a good athlete that can also be a running option late, which only adds to his arsenal," Adamson said.

"He'll be really important for the younger guys to see how important it is to have a multi-dimensional approach to your game, and how many different ways you can help our team win."

Meanwhile he is bringing in club ball confidence after the West Torrens claimed the South Australian Baseball League title earlier in the year and with the motivation to help them defend a title van der Linden will be fired up at all levels of baseball.

"Last year in the ABL we got so far but we didn't quite make it, we knew we had a chip on our shoulder to see what we can do," he said.

"We had a chance with West Torrens at the SABL level and luckily we played really well and got through to the grand final and won it. It was great to have that feeling, have that confidence and all that."

With the local competition starting up this weekend and the ABL just over a month away, baseball is back in full swing and for many it's time to live and breathe baseball, something van der Linden is thrilled to do.

"I always thought baseball was more of a weekend thing but now it's more of a daily thing," van der Linden said.

"It feels good to play every day; the more you play the better you play."

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.