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Star photo by P.J. HarmerOneonta Tigers pitcher Mark Brackman throws during a brief workout Monday at Damaschke Field. Brackman will open the season for Oneonta tonight, when the Tigers visit Vermont at 7:05 p.m.

ONEONTA _ Mark Brackman will look to get the Oneonta Tigers off to a strong start tonight at Vermont.

First-year manager Ryan Newman tagged Brackman as the starting pitcher for tonight's 7:05 p.m. New York-Penn League season-opener against the Lake Monsters.

Oneonta will play a three-game set at Vermont before heading to Tri-City for a 7 p.m. game Friday. The reigning Stedler Division champion O-Tigers will hold their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against the ValleyCats and head to T-C to finish the three-game series Sunday.

Brackman, a 6-foot-7 righty, is in his second tour with Oneonta. Drafted in the 16th round of last year's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft out of William Jewell College (Mo.), Brackman went 4-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 14 games for Oneonta.

He allowed 42 runs (33 earned) on 75 hits in 73 1/3 innings.

"I was here last year, so it's an honor to get the first start," Brackman said before doing a short workout at Damaschke Field on Monday. "It's the same drill _ throw a lot of strikes, get ahead and let my defense work. All these guys are here for a reason and it's because they are great baseball players. So let them get some of the action."

Brackman opened the year with Single-A Lakeland, going 0-3 with a 10.50 ERA in six games. He allowed 15 runs _ all earned _ on 23 hits in 12 innings. He said being back in Oneonta wasn't a bad thing.

"It's better than being home," Brackman said. "A lot of the guys I played with (last year) are in West Michigan right now. That's where I thought I'd be, but now I'm just seizing the opportunity to get to play. It's not really about where you're at right now, we're all about trying to get to the big leagues. I'm just using my opportunity. I'm still playing and still getting the opportunity to start and work on some things and try to make it to the big leagues."

Newman said Brackman will be on a pitch count, but considering he's been playing this year with the organization, he won't be on as strict a count as some of the younger and newly-drafted players.

"He's stretched out a bit more," Newman said. "We'd like to have the lead and see him get through five innings and get him a W. But with the break, we're watching the numbers."

Newman said picking Brackman was obvious.

"It was very easy," he said. "He's been here and he has the experience. ... We know what we're getting."

Brackman will oppose Vermont's Brad Peacock, a 6-1 right-hander who began the year at Single-A Hagerstown, going 0-5 with a 9.09 ERA.

Luke Putkonen, a 6-6 righty who went 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three games with the Gulf Coast League Tigers last season, will start the second game against Vermont. The Lake Monsters will counter with 6-0 righty Randy Matias, who went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two games with Hagerstown.

Darwin DeLeon, a 6-0 lefty who finished 9-0 with a 0.76 ERA for the Dominican Summer League Tigers last season, will start the third game for the O-Tigers and will face 6-4 lefty Patrick McCoy, who played in the Gulf Coast League last season.

Oneonta had a full workout scheduled for Monday night at Damaschke, but bad weather wiped that out. Players did have a chance to throw in the outfield and take some swings in the batting cages.

Newman set a tentative lineup for Oneonta's opener.

Chris White _ who hit .197 in 17 games for the Tigers last year, will bat leadoff and play center. Joaquin Guzman will play short and hit second and Hayden Parrott will play left and hit third. Carlos Ramirez will hit fourth and play first, followed by designated hitter Luis Arlet.

Joe Bowen, who went 1-for-25 (.040) in nine games for Oneonta last season, will hit sixth and catch. He also played 22 games at Single-A West Michigan this season, hitting .176 (13-for-74).

Bryan Pounds will hit seventh and play third, followed by Keith Stein in right field and Mike Gosse at second base.

"I'm ready and excited," Newman said. "I can't wait to see the scoreboard light up, the lights to come on, hear the national anthem and play some ball."

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P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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