DOWNERS GROVE – This has been a summer to remember for Nick Burdi, even if he's not playing as much baseball as he wants.
The flame-throwing 2011 Downers Grove South graduate, who drew national attention hurling 100 mph fastballs while pitching for the University of Louisville this spring, has been suiting up for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team. He has been making all the road trips, including a seven-day trek to Japan from July 5 to 11, but so far, a touch of bicep tendinitis has limited his action. Despite that, it's been a special summer.
"The guys are great. It's a fun group of guys," Burdi said. "Everyone is really talented and it's fun to watch those guys play. Guys like Trea Turner (second team All-American) and Alex Bregman (Baseball America's College Freshman of the Year), seeing those guys play and being able to say you played with them is pretty cool."
Comprised of players who just completed their freshman or sophomore seasons in college, the Collegiate National Team has faced teams from collegiate summer leagues and Japan's college all-stars. The squad also has five dates against Cuba scheduled for July 18 to 23 to cap the summer season.
Burdi saw his first action of the summer in the CNT's third game as he pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts in an 11-3 win over Fayetteville on June 24. He pitched again July 1 against Catawba Valley and fanned two in a perfect seventh inning as the CNT went on to win 9-2.
"It's not every day you get to play with a bunch of potential first-round draft picks," Burdi said. "We have 15 All-Americans on our team, so the talent playing defense behind me is something special."
Taking a cautious approach with his arm, he has not thrown in a game since July 1.
"They (Louisville coaches) want me ready for fall ball, so we're just being cautious with it," Burdi said.
On the mound or not, Burdi said there's something special about representing his country.
"Being able to put on that jersey and represent the USA, not many people can say they've done that."