KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Mike Sweeney, who may or may not have played his last game for Kansas City on Sunday, took out a full-page ad in the Kansas City Star thanking fans and the organization ``for all the love you've shown me through the years.''
Sweeney, 34, ends his five-year, $55 million contract this year. Often injured the past five seasons, he holds the club record for RBIs in a season and is considered by many longtime Royals watchers as the greatest right-handed hitter in team history.
He has said he would like to play another year, taking a reduced role. But club officials have been noncommittal both to him and to the media.
``I talked with (general manager Dayton Moore) yesterday and he said he wasn't sure what direction they'll want to go in,'' Sweeney said Sunday. ``But if this is my last game with the Royals, I know I've been blessed like very few people have ever been blessed. I've loved every minute of it.''
Sweeney broke in as a catcher after being selected in the 10th round of the 1991 June draft and was almost traded a couple of times until 1999, when he was switched to first base in an emergency. The next year he hit .333 and led the team with 206 hits, 29 home runs and set the club record with 144 RBIs. He was a four-time All-Star.
He played first base off and on for several years but later served almost exclusively as DH.
Despite his production, his career coincided with the lowest point in the history of the team, including several years of 100-plus losses and dreary last-place finishes as attendance declined and interest waned.
In his Sunday ad, he thanked the Royals for ``taking a chance on a 17-year-old kid from California way back in 1991.''
``I'm so grateful for everything you've done to help me develop into the player - and more importantly the man - I've become,'' he said.
Sweeney said he flew his mother, father and two brothers into Kansas City to see the game along with his wife and two children.
``It's going to be an emotional day for all of us,'' he said.
Sweeney played first base, his favorite position, in the regular season finale against Cleveland. When he came to bat in the first inning, he got a standing ovation from the crowd which, like so many home crowds during his career, was fairly sparse.
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