Burdi on donating his blood: ‘Right thing to do’

Pirates reliever hopes to get others involved amid nationwide shortage

March 20th, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates reliever and his wife, Rebecca, were watching the news on Thursday when they heard U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams call on healthy young people to donate blood amid the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.

About an hour after that, the #MLBbloodDonationChallenge began on Burdi’s social media accounts.

“We thought getting it out there and spreading the awareness of what it can do and who we can help,” Burdi said. “We’re not playing right now, so using our platform to start helping people across America, we thought, was the right thing to do.”

According to the American Red Cross, there is currently a “severe blood shortage” in the United States due to the number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent guidelines encouraging social distancing. Those cancellations led to roughly 86,000 fewer blood donations, according to the Red Cross, but the need for potentially life-saving donations has not lessened.

So, Rebecca – a former emergency room nurse currently pursuing a nurse practitioner degree – decided the Burdis should donate blood during their downtime from baseball. While driving to their local blood center in Providence, R.I., she came up with another idea.

“She just said, what do you think about trying to get some of the other guys to jump on board with you and we all post about it?” Burdi said Thursday in a phone interview. “We were driving over and thought of the idea of making a challenge out of it.”

Burdi opened the Pirates players’ group text and asked who would be willing to participate. The response, he said, was immediately “very positive.” In his initial post, Burdi challenged Pittsburgh pitchers , and .

Within a couple hours, Musgrove and Holland tweeted their support. They hope it will only grow from there.

“We’re hoping that over the next week or so, we’ll get a good turnout and start getting some blood donations out there to these hospitals to start helping people,” Burdi said.

Burdi, 27, said they waited for only 45 minutes before an “easy and efficient” donation. Otherwise, they’ve been laying low and mostly staying inside their condo in Providence, their offseason home, while waiting for word on when the hard-throwing right-hander might get back on the mound.

And no, fear of needles wasn’t an issue for Burdi – not when he’s undergone surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament and thoracic outlet syndrome within the last three years.

“You start getting used to it,” Burdi said.