ST. PETERSBURG -- When Ken Griffey Jr. stopped by Tropicana Field this weekend to see some old friends, one of the newest Mariners hung patiently in the dugout waiting for his chance. And when he saw his opening, rookie reliever Lucas Luetge pounced with a pair of baseballs in hand, asking for autographs.
Sometimes players are just like fans when it comes to meeting their heroes and for Luetge, Griffey remains as big as it gets.
Luetge grew up playing Griffey's Super Nintendo video game and closely following his Mariners career as a kid in Industry, Texas.
"I've still got that game," Luetge said. "It was pretty crazy getting to talk to him. I grew up watching him and that was 'our guy.' You know how on Yahoo when you log in you can track your favorite teams? I had the Mariners even before I was here because of him, just so I could track what he was doing. So it's pretty cool, and a little weird, just thinking about it now.
"I had him sign two balls, one for myself and one for my family. He was nice about it and talked to me for about 20 minutes. I loved it. I'll be smiling for a while."
Griffey isn't Luetge's first autograph and he won't be his last.
"I've been getting them all year from other teams," he said. "I've got Thome, Hamilton, Cain, Lincecum. I'm just trying to make a collection. I've got my Jeter jersey waiting for next week. I would have brought my Junior jersey but I didn't know he was coming.
"I'm just trying to get the collection for my man cave one day. We all know how baseball is. You're here today, you might not be here tomorrow. So while I'm here, I'll take advantage of it."
Lots of players trade autographs with each other or seek keepsakes, but Luetge admits he has to gather up some courage to ask at times.
"These guys know I'm not getting it to sell it. I'm keeping it for my memories," he said. "It's a little weird at first, even asking my teammates. You're a little gun shy at first, especially being a rookie. But everybody does it.
"It's one of those things where you just have to say, 'Hey, I'm doing it.' I was pretty pumped about it with Junior. I've met him and said hi before, but it was pretty cool to really get to talk to him."