The 1998 realignment that moved the Brewers into the National League effectively deleted the city of Milwaukee from Derek Jeter's travel itinerary, and so this weekend Interleague series has been something of a novelty for the retiring Yankees captain, who used to visit the city much more often.
Still, Jeter has fond memories of the time that he has spent in Milwaukee. One of his first big hits came a stone's throw away at old Milwaukee County Stadium, where a 21-year-old Jeter made an unexpected start on Sept. 26, 1995, and delivered a second-inning RBI double to help the Yankees stay atop the American League Wild Card standings.
"I wasn't supposed to play. I think I was just up so I could sort of watch and soak in the environment. It was a big hit for us at the time," Jeter recalled.
Jeter may no longer be a regular visitor in Milwaukee, but the Brewers plan to take advantage of this rare trip -- the Yanks' first since 2005 -- to recognize his career. The Brewers have said that Sunday's ceremony will begin at 12:45 p.m. CT.
"I saw him for a long time, and he prepares himself well and plays the right way," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "A great leader on their team. It seems like I've been watching him forever."
Milwaukee right-hander Matt Garza and New York right-hander David Phelps will match up in the rubber game of the three-game series. Garza is 2-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 13 career games (12 starts) against the Yankees, while Phelps is facing the Brewers for the first time in his career.
Prior to the first pitch, the Brewers will present a gift, though its nature remains top secret. When the team held a similar ceremony for the Braves' Chipper Jones in 2012, the retiring switch-hitter received a gas grill and a year's supply of Klement's Sausages.
Jeter has received parting gifts in Houston and Anaheim thus far; the Astros offered golf clubs, a Stetson hat and boots, while the Angels presented Jeter with a 12-foot paddleboard.
"He's going to be missed," former Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I think it's great that he's retiring, where he can finally admire what he has accomplished. If there was ever a role model, what he represents is something that doesn't come along very often."
Jeter has said that the pregame ceremonies have not affected his preparation. He has also been touched by the warm ovations, including during the first two games of the series in Milwaukee.
"The way the fans have treated me, it's been pretty special," Jeter said. "Those are the things that I'll remember, but it's still early in the season so I try not to focus on that."
Yankees: Ichiro stating case for more at-bats
Ichiro Suzuki came off the bench late in Saturday's game and ripped a pinch-hit single to center field. That's nothing new for the 40-year-old veteran, who has 10 hits in his last 25 at-bats (.400) and is making a strong case for increased playing time.
The Yankees entered the season not sure how Ichiro would fit in, looking at him as a spare outfielder, defensive replacement and pinch-runner.
Ichiro has excelled in all of those roles, batting .377 with a .400 on-base percentage and .453 slugging percentage in 29 games. The Yankees have had mixed results in their outfield from Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran early on.
"We'll see," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been playing real well for us, that's for sure."
Brewers: Ramirez could be DL-bound
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who spent much of last season on the disabled list with a left knee injury, may be headed back after suffering a strained left hamstring on Saturday night. Ramirez limped off the field after fielding a ground ball in the fourth inning.
"He pulled it pretty good," Roenicke said. "We'll know a little bit more [on Sunday], but he felt a pop."
Ramirez, who had hit a long solo home run the previous inning to give Milwaukee a 4-2 lead, ranged a few steps to his left to field a Yangervis Solarte grounder. Ramirez flipped the baseball to second base for a force play but grimaced in pain. Before head athletic trainer Dan Wright could even get to the scene to investigate, Ramirez was walking to the dugout.
The Brewers are already without three-hole hitter Ryan Braun (right oblique), and losing Ramirez further strains an offense that has been struggling to consistently score runs. The Brewers hope to get Braun back from the DL for Tuesday's game against the Pirates, though he is still feeling some discomfort and may need more time.
• After retiring Scooter Gennett on Saturday, Yankees reliever Dellin Betances has retired 10 of the 13 batters he has first faced when taking the mound this season. Of Betances' last 22 recorded outs, 16 have been strikeouts.
• Alfonso Soriano has 999 career hits in the AL and 1,077 in the NL. With one more hit, he would become the seventh player all time with at least 1,000 hits in either league. The others are: Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Vladimir Guerrero, Fred McGriff, Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Lee.
• Soriano also needs one hit to become the first player to record 1,000 hits, 500 runs, 500 RBIs, 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases in each league.
• Kyle Lohse on Saturday delivered the Brewers' Major League-leading 28th quality start.
• With career save No. 319 on Saturday, Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez tied Todd Jones for 16th all time. Up next for Rodriguez is Jose Mesa, who logged 321 career saves.