June 21, 2002

Notre Dame freshman pitcher Grant Johnson (Burr Ridge, Ill.) was unable to return to campus on Wednesday with the rest of the Irish baseball team – but he has a very good reason, as the 6-6, 220-pound righthander departed from Omaha and the College World Series and flew directly to Tucson, Ariz., as one of 35 invitees for the USA National Team trials.

Johnson – one of 16 pitchers among the national-team hopefuls – is slated to pitch in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Hi Corbett Field. The final 22-player roster, likely to include 10 pitchers, will be announced on Monday, June 24, with the team then set to embark on a summer-long schedule that will include international competition overseas.

Only one of the pitchers at the trials (Southwest Missouri RHP Bob Zimmerman) is a returner from the 2001 USA National Team while five returning position players are at the trials. Johnson and Texas righthander Huston Street are the only invitees who were members of the 2001 USA Junior National Team that posted a runner-up finish at the 2001 Pan Am Games in Cuba (Johnson went 2-0 with an 0.93 ERA at the ’01 Pan Am Games).

If Johnson is named to the team, he will be the third Notre Dame player to compete with Team USA in the last five summers. Infielder Brant Ust (’98) and righthander Aaron Heilman (’99) were members of the USA National Team following their sophomore seasons at Notre Dame.

Johnson is one of 15 invitees who play for one of the eight teams that have been competing in the 2002 College World Series.

The 35-player tryout roster includes 10 righthanded pitchers and six lefthanders. Johnson is one of four freshman RHPs among the hopefuls, with the others including Rice’s Philip Humber (who started vs. ND in the CWS), Old Dominion’s Justin Verlander and Street – one of four Texas players who will be playing in Saturday’s NCAA title game (in addition to one each from Clemson and South Carolina).

The six sophomore RHPs at the team trials include Cal State Fullerton teammates Chad Cordero and Wes Littleton, plus: Ryan Schroyer (Arizona State), Kyle Sleeth (Wake Forest), Brad Sullivan (Houston) and Bob Zimmerman (Southwest Missouri).

Three of the six lefthanders at the trials are sophomores: Abe Alvarez (Long Beach State), Kyle Bakker (Georgia Tech) and Justin Simmons (Texas), in addition to freshman LHPs Tyler Lumsden (Clemson), Taylor Tankersley (Alabama) and Wes Whisler (UCLA).

The four catchers include sophomores Landon Powell (South Carolina) and Tony Richie (Florida State), plus freshmen Devin Ivany (South Florida) and Clint Sammons (Georgia).

The nine infielders at the trials include: Tulane sophomore 1B/OF Michael Aubrey, LSU’s Aaron Hill, California sophomore 3B Conor Jackson, Rice freshman SS Paul Janish, Texas sophomores Tim Moss (2B) and Omar Quintanilla (3B), Georgia Tech freshman 2B Eric Patterson, Arizona State freshman SS Dustin Pedroia and Southern 2B Rickie Weeks.

The six outfielders include freshman Jeremy Slayden (Georgia Tech) and his teammate Matt Murton, plus four other sophomores: Shane Costa (Cal State Fullerton), Mark Jurich (Louisville) and Stanford teammates Sam Fuld (Stanford) and Carlos Quentin.

The five returning position players from the 2001 USA National Team include Aubrey, Quintanilla, Weeks, Fuld and Quentin.

For a complete roster, see the following link: http://www.usabaseball.com/natl_players.html.