Reliever Luetge is Mariners' biggest surprise

Reliever Luetge is Mariners' biggest surprise

Reliever Luetge is Mariners' biggest surprise
OAKLAND -- The Mariners wound up with seven official rookies on their 25-man roster, but the biggest surprise has to be Rule 5 Draft pick Lucas Luetge.

The 25-year-old had never pitched above Double-A ball in the Brewers' system and seemed lost behind a long line of left-handed relievers when camp opened. But he hung around and kept performing, and wound up making the club after a strong spring.

"It's the greatest feeling you can have," Luetge said on Thursday as he prepared for the team's off-day workout before Friday's game with the A's. "You've been dreaming about this your whole life, and you finally get that chance."

His first phone call after the roster was finalized on Wednesday was to his wife. Then, he called his mom and dad, who will be driving from Industry, Texas, to take in Seattle's series with the Rangers next week.

"My wife has been going through all this with me, and my parents have been with me since Little League," he said. "My dad coached me when I was little, and then videotaped every game and would talk to me after every high school game.

"He was speechless when I told him. This was all of our dreams. This is what you work for, and when it finally happens, it takes you back a step."

Luetge was soaking everything up Thursday in his first time in a Major League clubhouse.

"Just driving up to the stadium was awesome," said Luetge. "I'm just trying to take it all in, little by little. I'll try to enjoy every bit of it and not take any of it for granted."

Of Seattle's rookies, four will be making their Major League debuts -- Luetge, Erasmo Ramirez and Japanese signees Munenori Kawasaki and Hisashi Iwakuma. The other three -- Alex Liddi, Steve Delabar and Jesus Montero -- played in the Majors last year as September callups, but not enough to eliminate their rookie status.