Brewers ready for rival Twins in Interleague

Brewers ready for rival Twins in Interleague

Brewers ready for rival Twins in Interleague
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks does not remember everything about June 25, 2005, but he remembers that one swing. Weeks connected against then-Twins ace Johan Santana for his first Major League home run that day, a memorable one for the Brewers because Prince Fielder hit his first homer later in the same game.

Weeks has gotten plenty of chances to relive his first big Major League moment, because the Brewers and Twins have met annually in a pair of Interleague Series. They will renew the rivalry this weekend at Miller Park, and again June 15-17 in Minneapolis.

It might be the last time they meet for a while. With the Astros set to switch leagues in 2013, Major League Baseball is mulling different scheduling scenarios that will dramatically change Interleague Play and could result in fewer games between natural rivals.

Weeks would be OK with that.

2012 INTERLEAGUE PLAY PREVIEW
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"I like seeing different teams, especially the ones you don't see in Spring Training," he said. "The biggest thing for me is getting to see the different parks. That's the best thing about it. I think players enjoy that, and it brings fans to parks they probably have never been to."

Besides their series against the Twins, the Brewers will host the Blue Jays at Miller Park from June 18-20 and will travel for road games against the Royals (June 12-14) and White Sox (June 22-24).

The Brewers went to Kansas City in 2006, but have not been to Chicago's South Side since July 2001, when the White Sox swept a three-game series. The Brewers and White Sox had a heated rivalry at times during the Crew's tenure in the AL.

"I enjoy it more when they come to our field and [AL teams] have to use their pitchers differently," said Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada, who will start Friday's Interleague opener. "There's a little more technique that comes into our game."

The Astros' move will leave 15 teams in both the American League and National League, necessitating year-round Interleague Play. Under the current system, Interleague Games are concentrated into May and June.

An MLB spokesman told MLB.com earlier this month that "nothing is finalized." The league must submit a tentative 2013 schedule to the MLB Players Association for approval by July 1.

Players to watch
Ryan Braun, LF (.307, 14 HR, 50 RBIs): Braun has an .886 OPS in Interleague Play.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B (.296, 27 HRs, 90 RBIs): Ramirez is fourth among active third basemen in Interleague home runs and RBIs, behind Scott Rolen, Chipper Jones and Adrian Beltre.
John Axford, CL (7-for-7 in saves, 1.38 ERA): Axford took over the Brewers' closer role for good in an Interleague Game, replacing Trevor Hoffman on May 23, 2010 at Minnesota's Target Field.
"I like the idea" of year-round Interleague, Brewers closer John Axford said. "Maybe they'll expand it even more and there will be more. I would like that. It's going to be strange, though, because literally in the first series of the season there are going to be Interleague Games."

Here's a closer look at the Brewers' Interleague slate:

Last year: Milwaukee went 6-9 in a brutal stretch of 15 straight games last season against the beasts from the AL East and the Twins. The Brewers drew games at Boston and New York and hosted the Rays in addition to their usual six games against the Minnesota. This year's schedule, on paper, appears much more forgiving.

All-time: The Brewers are 99-115 in Interleague Play, including going 8-7 as an AL franchise against NL teams in 1997.

vs. Twins, May 18-20 at Miller Park and June 15-17 at Target Field: Buy tickets
The Twins own the all-time series, 212-223, though the Brewers have won four of six games in each of the last two seasons. Brewers officials mention the Twins often when talking about Milwaukee's own building process from a perennial loser to a contending franchise, but the Twins appear to have fallen on hard times, back in last place in the AL Central after losing 99 games in 2011.

at Royals, June 12-14: Buy tickets
It's a regular-season reunion with Royals manager Ned Yost, who managed the Brewers from 2003 until 12 games remained in the 2008 season. Yost's situation in Kansas City is similar to the one he inherited in Milwaukee, a building club stocked with extremely promising home-grown hitters like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon. These teams hooked up in December 2010 for the blockbuster trade that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, and it will be interesting to see whether Greinke starts at his old home. The Royals lead the all-time series, 172-206. (T link)

vs. Blue Jays, June 18-20: Buy tickets
The Brewers have won each of their first two Interleague Series against the Jays, including a three-game sweep at Miller Park in 2008, and lead the all-time series, 158-115. The Blue Jays are one of only four AL franchises against whom the Brewers have a winning record (also the Indians, Mariners and Rangers).

at White Sox, June 22-24: Buy tickets
The Brewers and White Sox see each other in Spring Training, but have played only three regula- season games since 2001. Chicago owns the all-time series, 199-174.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.