PHOENIX -- Last year, Chris Narveson started the Brewers' home opener in the bullpen. This time, he'll be on the pitcher's mound.
The 29-year-old left-hander will start the team's first 2011 home game, against the Braves on April 4, manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday while announcing his 2011 pitching rotation. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will start on Opening Day, March 31 in Cincinnati.
"It's a nice honor," said Narveson, who does have some experience in openers. He pitched two innings of relief in the Brewers' Opening Day loss to the Rockies at Miller Park last season.
"It will be pretty sweet to go in there and get that first game," he said, well aware that the ballpark will be bustling. "I think having it as a day game might help out a little bit because you don't have time to think about it too much. You try to approach it as another game, but it will definitely be a special game."
Roenicke said the club considered several options for the four healthy starters -- Zack Greinke is sidelined by a cracked rib -- that would have had someone else working the Miller Park opener. In the end, club officials felt comfortable with Narveson, who is entering a Major League season as a member of the starting rotation for the first time. He was 12-9 with a 4.99 ERA in 28 starts and nine relief appearances last season.
"It's an important game to us," Roenicke said. "We feel comfortable with 'Narvey' doing the [home] opener. He's not going to be rattled."
Narveson started against the Rockies at Maryvale Baseball Park on Thursday and allowed one run on four hits in 3 2/3 innings, with one walk and two strikeouts. He was particularly pleased with his changeup, an important pitch for a left-hander like Narveson, who is not blessed with a power fastball.
"I feel like I can throw it at any time, which is huge for a lefty," he said. "It kind of keeps them from swinging out of their shoes too much."