John Brownell takes pride in what he eats -- innings. The 30-year-old righthander leads the Ducks with 90 2/3 innings pitched. He has three complete games in 15 starts, and has gotten hot as the Ducks have won each of his last three starts. Brownell was the first Duck to be named league player of the week this season, when he won two games during the week of June 24, allowing one run and nine hits with 13 strikeouts in 13 innings. As of Friday, Brownell was second in the Atlantic League in innings pitched and strikeouts, and his three complete games were tied for the league-lead. He's 6-5 with a 3.87 ERA.
How much pride do you take in being the staff workhorse?
"As a starter, your value is most important in innings pitched, and everything else will fall in place from there if you're eating a lot of innings. It's important. That's my job and that's what I can do every five days -- is pitch until they tell me I'm done."
How's it feel to be player of the week?
"It's a pretty neat honor. It's a really good league, so to be honored with that, it's an awesome deal but we got the second half of the season now, so we got to move on and hopefully make the playoffs."
How important is it for you to lead the league in a pitching category?
"Every year I go in with a few individual goals -- leading the league in wins, innings pitched, and if you're leading in those two categories you're going to be up there in ERA and strikeouts."
What have you learned playing with so many former major leaguers?
"It's awesome to play with guys with that kind of experience. You learn so many different angles or aspects to the game, different ways to approach certain hitters and stuff like that. I'm always picking guys' brains whether they're position players or pitchers because I'm always trying to learn different angles on the game. Ramon Castro has helped me a lot. When he catches me he gets me back into attacking with my fastball. I've asked him what my best pitch is and he says my fastball, and I didn't really believe in that until my last few games where he's kept [calling for] fastballs and telling me to stick with it. That's what has gotten me out of jams lately is sticking with the fastball, trusting it and then going after guys."
What's your favorite pitch?
"My favorite pitch is my curveball. I think that separates me from other righties, because most righties throw with about the same velocity so I like to establish my curveball early and often in the game so that they're aware that I'm going to use it a lot."
What's the funniest thing you've seen a teammate do this season?
"The funniest guy is Castro. He likes to put cups of bubble gum on people's heads. The other day I went out to coach first at Somerset and Ramon put a cup on my head with bubble gum on it so I was coaching first with bubble gum on my head and I didn't even know."