"I knew to keep me they had to keep me on the major league roster, and I thought my chances of making the team were about one percent," the left-handed reliever said. "I looked at it as the chance to gain experience in camp, learn as much as I could and apply it where ever I wound up."
Luetge wound up on the opening-day roster and has been with the Mariners all season and has become an effective part of a bullpen that has been dominant.
Now 2-2 with a pair of saves and a 3.57 earned-run average, Luetge has held left-handed hitters to a .175 batting average in 2012.
His major-league debut came against Oakland, when he faced Josh Reddick -- and struck him out on three pitches. Luetge didn't allow an earned run in his first 25 games.
That caused family problems.
"My brothers and my parents worried about me when things didn't go my way," Luetge said. "I told them, 'I've given up a ton of runs in my career. It's part of the game.'
"One of the things I've learned, talking to veteran relievers, is to rank your performance on the number of games you help the team and the number of games you hurt your team -- and forget the numbers.
"A guy can pitch 15 games in a month, do the job 14 times and on the 15th he gets pounded. His numbers get skewed, but he's done his job."
Any other lessons?
"Keep your intensity, don't take any outing for granted," he said. "I've had to teach myself that, because if I come into a 9-1 game, I've got to treat it like a 1-0 game. If I don't, things can get away in a hurry."
Oddly, with 61 big-league games under his belt, Luetge is a gray beard compared to rookies Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor. Has he tried to help them?
"I don't give much advice," Luetge said. "I've got too much to learn, still."
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