In his third big league season, Yankees pitcher David Phelps will finally get the chance to face the team he grew up watching when he starts against the Cardinals on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Phelps grew up 15 minutes from downtown St. Louis, in Florissant, Mo., and rooted for the Cardinals as a kid. On Tuesday he'll be tasked with shutting them down.
"You grow up thinking about playing on this field," Phelps said. "Obviously, you don't think about doing it in a Yankees uniform, but it's really cool. You walk out and you see the Arch. There's small things like that that do make it fun."
Phelps had a smile on his face as he drove to Busch Stadium for Monday's series opener, which the Yankees won, 6-4, in 12 innings. He added that the important thing is to approach it like any other game, even though "there's a lot of emotions that go into it."
Phelps is coming off his best outing of the season, allowing just two runs off six hits and walking only one, though he ran into the White Sox's Chris Sale at his best and was handed a loss.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny spoke on Monday of the deep-seated respect that exists between the two franchises.
"You hope it's reciprocated," Matheny said. "Just for what the organizations have been able to do. ... That consistency that comes with success, one, and two, the way you go about it. They've done a real nice job of being successful, yes, but also just holding that logo and holding that expectation of being a Yankee and how you go about playing the game every day.
"I think players, what we hope they do, is not get too caught up in anything except to go play the game."
In front of his hometown crowd, Phelps will be opposed by Lance Lynn, who is 5-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 starts this season. Three of his four starts this month have been quality starts. He has never faced the Yankees.
Yankees: Jeter appreciates recognition from Ozzie
Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith was a welcoming veteran in 1996 when Derek Jeter was breaking into the Majors, just as he himself was headed for retirement. On Monday, Smith extended a welcome again, this time to St. Louis, another stop on Jeter's farewell tour.
"He always treated me good, especially when I was a younger player," Jeter said of Smith. "He's a guy that I admire; I admire his career. When you're a young player, you remember how guys treat you, and Ozzie always treated me well."
Standing ovations from fans and gifts from organizations have marked each stop of Jeter's tour during his final season. It continued at Busch Stadium on Monday, when the Cardinals honored him prior to the series opener.
Jeter was presented with Stan Musial cufflinks, as well as a $10,000 donation to his Turn 2 Foundation on behalf of the Cardinals organization.
Cardinals: Preparation key in this series
Over the course of a 162-game series, rare are the moments for extra preparation. But that's not necessarily the case when you play the Yankees for the first time since 2005.
"We were fortunate that we were at the field for 16 hours yesterday, so we had plenty of time to go through all the video and data that we needed to," Matheny said. "[There's] a lot of new faces, guys we hadn't seen much of."
Matheny said that Peter Bourjos and Jhonny Peralta, both of whom were in the American League until this season, have also been speaking up about scouting reports.
"They've been talking to guys and telling us what they've been seeing," Matheny said. "That's helpful."
• Mark Teixeira sat out Monday's series opener with a sore right wrist, and he is listed as day to day. Manager Joe Girardi hopes to have him back in the lineup on Tuesday. No tests are currently scheduled.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.