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It's hard to get the ball away from Ducks' John Brownell

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell throws

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell throws a pitch to the Somerset Patriots in the second inning of Game 5 of the Atlantic League Championship Series in Bridgewater, New Jersey, on Sunday, September 29, 2013. (Photo by Ray Stubblebine) Credit: Ray Stubblebine

Ducks manager Kevin Baez was at the podium about 10 seconds during Saturday's Ducks Media Day news conference when he made the announcement. John Brownell will start on opening night against the York Revolution on Friday in York, Pennsylvania.

"It's nice," Brownell said of the nod. "I get to start my season a day earlier then the next guy. But whatever day you have the ball, you're the guy."

Brownell, who is entering his fourth season with the Ducks, found the ball in his hand a lot last season. The righthander started 29 games and threw 202 innings, both franchise records. He went 13-9 with a 3.61 ERA. Brownell also led the Atlantic League with five complete games and struck out 130 batters, the second-highest total in the league.

"Every time I take the mound, I want to throw the whole game," he said. "I look forward to throwing 200-plus innings. It's been my goal for a few years. I achieved that last year and I'd like to do it again this year."

Despite the heavy workload last season, the Ducks don't have any concern about his being able to duplicate the same amount of mound time this season.

"There are certain guys that want the ball and pitch count is not for them," Baez said. "He's one of them. Obviously, you do the eye-test when you're a manager or a pitching coach. You watch how the pitchers are throwing."

Baez added that he does not subscribe to the traditional 100-pitch-and-out philosophy with Brownell, and the manager has shown he's serious. In an August start last season, Brownell threw 146 pitches, 88 of which were strikes.

Said Baez, "He's a guy that's proven and a guy that I feel comfortable that, when he's on the mound, he's going to get some outs . . . You want pitchers that don't want to give up the ball. That's something that you can't teach."

New York Sports