ST. PETERSBURG -- Lucas Luetge has been primarily a left-handed specialist in his brief career with the Mariners, but that role could be expanding a bit with fellow lefty Charlie Furbush now on the 15-day disabled list.
Luetge, a Rule 5 rookie who never pitched above Double-A ball before this season, found a successful niche as a guy who could come in and get a left-handed hitter or two out when needed. In his first 35 appearances this season, he totaled just 23 innings of work.
But the 25-year-old Texan was used to get five outs in the seventh and eighth innings of Tuesday's 9-6 victory at Kansas City, then closed out the ninth inning for Felix Hernandez in Thursday's 6-1 win. With Furbush sidelined by a strained biceps muscle, Luetge and Oliver Perez are the only lefties left in the bullpen.
"When we had three of us [left-handers] down there, I knew mostly that I'd be a one-batter guy just because Charlie and Oliver can go long," Luetge said. "I can, too, but it just hasn't been my role. But now that he's not here for a while, I'm going to have to extend myself a little."
Luetge has been thrilled to be a part of this year's Major League club after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Brewers, and he -- and the Mariners -- are just learning how much he can do. So the youngster welcomes any increased role.
"Oh yeah. That's everybody's goal," he said. "I don't think there should be a relief pitcher out here that doesn't want to be a closer one day. You want to have the top spot. It's like every starter wants to be the ace. If you don't want that, you shouldn't be playing.
"I don't know too many people that just want to come in in a blowout game or a mop-up role. I think everybody wants a bigger role and when you get it, you've got to take advantage of it. Or if not, try for it again."
Heading into Friday's series opener against the Rays, Luetge owned a 1.40 ERA in 37 appearances and has shown an ability to get both left- and right-handers out. Lefties are hitting .146 (7-for-48) against him, while righties are .216 (8-for-37).