Veteran third baseman Joe Randa will probably be playing with another club next season. (Paul Sancya/AP)
KANSAS CITY -- Royals third baseman Joe Randa looks around Kauffman Stadium and remembers not the big hits or the flashy plays. He remembers the people.
"The people that work in the stadium that you see every day, the grounds crew guys, the clubhouse guys. Teammates kind of come and go, especially in this organization," Randa said.
"There's me and Sween-Dog and Jermaine (Dye) when he was here and Johnny (Damon) but, other than that, it's been a pretty vicious cycle of guys coming and going."
Now it's Randa who'll probably be going. The Royals are not expected to exercise the mutual option on his contract and he'll likely enter the free agent market. Randa has put in eight years with the Royals, interrupted by a two-year hiatus with Pittsburgh and Detroit in 1997-98.
His first Spring Training with the Royals was in 1994 when the club was loaded with veterans.
"That's the difference in this organization between now and then. Back in the mid-'90s, this was a veteran team. Wally Joyner, Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne, Vince Coleman, Hubie Brooks, Dave Henderson. You walk in that clubhouse and you were pretty intimidated as a young guy and you listened," Randa said.
They weren't above a little clubhouse humor, either.
"I remember telling Keith Miller that George Brett was my idol growing up -- him and (Paul) Molitor and (Robin) Yount -- and the first time I got to meet him, George was naked going into the shower. Keith did it on purpose, just to embarrass me," he said.
Joe Randa / 3B
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"My first game, me and my roommate from the minor leagues, Joe Vitiello, were walking down the tunnel and we put our arms around one another and said, 'We made it ,' and that was pretty special," Randa said.
Proving he belonged in the Major Leagues wasn't all that easy, however. He was sent down to Omaha and spent most of 1995 in Triple-A.
"There was one game that mentally put me over the hump in '96. It was against the Milwaukee Brewers and a pitcher named Scott Karl was on the mound. I hadn't gotten to that point at the Major League level where I felt I deserved to be here. I was still fighting the fact that I was playing against a lot of guys that I saw on TV when I was younger," Randa said.
"The bases were loaded with two outs. I fouled a couple of pitches off, I was behind, I was late on them. Something clicked in me and I got angry, I got mad, I got aggressive and I hit a ground ball up the middle for two RBIs. My whole season took off. I ended up hitting over .300 and, after that, I felt I belonged here."
Sween-Dog, aka Mike Sweeney, and Randa signed the same year and they've been great friends.
"Sunday is going to be a tough day because, most likely, it's going to be the last day that Joe Randa and I suit up on the same team together," Sweeney said.
"My dream come true would be for me to be playing first base tomorrow and in the ninth inning we're winning 3-2 and (Jeremy) Affeldt throws a split down and away and Carlos Lee hooks it down the line. Joe dives down the third-base line, scoops it and flips it across the diamond to me."
That won't happen because Sweeney is on the disabled list. But he'll give Randa a hug and hopes that KC fans give him an affectionate send-off.
Randa has his bank of memories.
"Through the course of those eight years there were so many great moments on the field. Hitting a home run (on the anniversary) the year after my mom died, that was pretty special, too. And getting to put in third base on Opening Day with my son Jacob, that was pretty cool," he said.
Certainly last year's turnaround team provided some special moments, too.
"Probably August and September last year were the two most memorable months of my career," Randa said. "Because the games were high intensity and every inning, every pitch had some great value and meaning. I'd never had that. Those two months were probably the highlight of my time here."
That and the folks around the stadium, the attendants who helped his wife Bethany in the parking lot and the ushers who guided her and sons Jacob and Justin to their seats.
"Those are the things that really touched me the most this week, seeing these people I've seen for years, people that have treated my family with a lot of respect," he said.
Jimmy Gobble / P
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
Gobble on program: Left-hander Jimmy Gobble returned from Los Angeles where he was examined by spine specialist Dr. Robert Watkins. Gobble has a bulge on a disk which was causing pain in his left leg.
"He gave me a workout program for the offseason and there's a physical therapist I'll work with when I get back home," Gobble said. "I want to fix the problem. I don't want it to flare up. I take my job seriously."
Gobble said the problem began in May but he didn't pay much attention to it. A recent MRI revealed some abnormality in his lower back.
"There's something wrong but it can be fixed," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.