SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A year ago, Lucas Luetge came to Mariners camp knowing he had to be lights out just to make the club as a Rule 5 Draft pick who'd never pitched above Double-A ball in the Brewers system.
But the flip side was that if the Mariners chose to keep Luetge, he was definitely going to stay on the Major League club since Rule 5 Draft regulations require a player to be offered back to his former team if he's dropped from the 25-man roster at any point during his first season.
This spring is a different deal, with the Mariners now able to send Luetge down to the Minors if they choose without risking losing him. So while the 25-year-old Texan proved himself a capable situational lefty last season when he posted a 3.98 ERA in 63 appearances, there are no guarantees as the club goes about structuring its bullpen this spring.
Manager Eric Wedge liked having three lefties to work with in the second half last season when Luetge, Charlie Furbush and Oliver Perez all were part of the 'pen, but isn't locked into anything for 2013. After giving up runs in back-to-back appearances, Luetge helped his case with two scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and four strikeouts Friday against the Netherlands.
"We felt it was important for Luetge to come out and throw a couple innings," Wedge said. "We were hoping he'd be efficient in that first inning to where he could come back out, particularly against the right-handers. We're still looking for him to continue to improve, and he was much more aggressive. He had better life on his ball, both against right- and left-handers. But the finish on his pitches to the right-handers was definitely much improved."
How does Wedge view the southpaw component of his bullpen?
"We feel good about the left-handed options we have," he said. "Even the young kids, [Brian] Moran and [Bobby] LaFromboise, those are a couple guys that were very impressive in camp here. And of course the three we had last year that are still here. But we haven't made any final decisions with that yet. We still have some people in camp that are competing for jobs, so nothing is a given."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.