LOS ANGELES -- The Rays opened a spot in their bullpen for Josh Lueke on Friday by designating veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth for assignment.
"We decided to make a move in the pitching staff, so we decided to DFA Kyle Farnsworth and brought up Josh Lueke," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Lueke was having a very good season, it's just something we thought we wanted to do at this particular time. ... If Josh was not looming, we probably would not have done this at this time."
Farnsworth saved 25 games with a 2.18 ERA for the Rays in 2011, both career bests, but has mostly struggled since. He began last year on the disabled list with a right elbow strain and was relegated to middle relief when he returned, going 1-6 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 innings.
Maddon had even more trouble finding work for Farnsworth this season, and the 37-year-old right-hander hadn't been effective when called upon. In 29 2/3 innings over 39 appearances, Farnsworth put together a 5.76 ERA and 1.48 WHIP with only 19 strikeouts.
"Kyle, I spoke with him on the phone yesterday, it's never cool when you have to do that on the phone and not in person, I don't like that, but there was no other way to do it," Maddon said. "It's something [general manager] Andrew [Friedman] and I had spoken about, and we decided to do it. And Kyle [is] a man of not so many words, so he primarily listened to me.
"I thanked him for all the good work he's done here. And really I'd hoped that as he moves forward, that if he wants to pitch again, that he can pitch. But I wanted to thank him for all the stuff he's done for the Rays in the past."
The Rays have 10 days to trade or release Farnsworth.
Lueke, meanwhile, will join Tampa Bay for the third time this season. The 28-year-old right-hander has made 11 appearances in the Majors this season, compiling a 3.75 ERA with 15 strikeouts and nine walks in 12 innings.
But Lueke has thrived with Triple-A Durham this year, racking up 70 strikeouts compared to 14 walks over 50 innings. In 34 appearances for the Bulls, Lueke owns a 0.72 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 14 saves.
"There's been some fine-tuning where I got a little bit too happy with the offspeed and not relied on the fastball," said Lueke when addressing what went wrong earlier with the Rays. "I went back down there and re-established [the fastball]. Get ahead with strike one and just do it like Jake [McGee] does, throw it until they hit it."
Maddon spoke about how he planned to use Lueke.
"Probably more early in the game right now, a little on the lengthy side, although I have no problems with him pitching in the latter part of the game either," Maddon said. "He's got really good stuff. He gets out both righties and lefties."
Lueke's route on Friday saw him leave Durham shortly after 9 a.m., travel through Atlanta, and he stepped into the Rays' clubhouse after 2 p.m.
"Ready to go," he said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.