So much for the tough talk. The Mets placed Anthony Swarzak on the disabled list Tuesday with strained left oblique muscle and to take his place, they recalled Hansel Robles, who less than two weeks ago they had demoted with pointed comments.
“He’s got good stuff,” manager Mickey Callaway said on March 24 when the Mets optioned Robles to minor league camp. “But you have got to be able to do the small things that separate yourself from everyone else and if you can’t do that, stuff doesn’t mean anything if you are not taking care of your business.”
In fact, Callaway told the media he had cautioned the 27-year-old right-hander that he would not be back in the big leagues unless they saw improvement.
“It was kind of a shock to him, but he knows he needs to work on some of the small things,” Callaway said of when he told Robles of the demotion. “I don’t know how much he valued it in the past and we just told him, ‘You can go down there and strike out 25 people in a row, but if those things we need you to work on at the big-league level aren’t taken care of, then we are probably going to pass you by.’ ”
Things certainly have changed since as Callaway praised Robles on Tuesday.
“It was a very short, limited period of time, but he had a couple outings and he did a really good job,” Callaway said. “And he deserved to come back up, so we’re excited that he’s back up. He’s doing a really good job with his delivery, sticking with one delivery and not trying to trick guys. Doing a better job controlling the game, things like that. So we thought he was the right guy (to call up) at this time.”
Swarzak, who the Mets signed to a two-year $14 million deal this winter, was injured on Saturday. He has thrown 2.1 innings this year, allowing one run and striking out three. He missed most of spring training with a calf injury.
“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling better today than I was yesterday, so a step in the right direction. A baby step, but a step nonetheless,” Swarzak said. “From what I understand with this type of injury, if you feel better than the day before you’re in good shape.”
With Mets GM Sandy Alderson indicated on Opening Day he felt they had enough bullpen depth for their plan to rotate young arms in and out over the season to keep it fresh, this then is a curious move.
Clearly Robles had been on thin ice with the organization coming into 2018.
Swarzak’s signing was warning flag for Robles, who appeared in 171 games for the Mets over the past three seasons. He had not made a great impression on Callaway and new pitching coach Dave Eiland with a 9.26 spring training ERA. They wanted Robles to be quicker with his delivery. At times, when quick pitching, a technique popularized in the Mets bullpen by former reliever LaTroy Hawkins, Robles could be effective.
They didn’t see that this spring and Robles was on shaky ground with the front office as well.
Robles is 17-12 with a 3.97 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 188.1 major-league innings. But his ERA last season was a career-worst 4.92. When he was demoted to Triple-A in May, he had a 6.23 ERA. Callaway opted not to use Robles out of the bullpen in Tuesday’s win.
Perhaps most aggravating to the Mets was the fact that Robles had allowed four home runs in the three games before he was demoted last year. Because of injuries, Robles was recalled in July and pitched to a 4.11 ERA in 35 innings over 25 games.
“Spring training was just practice and practice and practice,” Robles said through an interpreter prior to Tuesday’s game against the Phillies. “Now I’ve got to focus, and will focus, and give 100% of me.”
Only time will tell.
Seth Lugo had his start skipped when Callaway elected to bump Matt Harvey to Tuesday after his scheduled start on Monday was cancelled due to snow. Lugo, however, looked sharp out of the bullpen, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out four. After the game, Callaway described Lugo’s role as “fluid” and praised the righthander as “a weapon out of the bullpen.”
Lugo’s next opportunity to start will likely come on Wednesday April 11 in Miami if Vargas is unable to return by that point. Lugo said he believes he’s proven he can be counted on if the time comes.
“I hope with an outing like that they have confidence to put me out there to start,” Lugo said.
ROSARIO FEELING ROSY
Amed Rosario was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday. Callaway said there’s no cause for concern and he simply wanted to give Rosario a breather after he started all three games in the Mets’ opening series against the Braves.
Jose Reyes replaced Rosario in the starting lineup and batted eighth with Yoenis Cespedes dropping from the two spot to bat third.
After throwing a simulated game on Monday, Jason Vargas will throw another one this weekend in Port St. Lucie. Vargas started the season on the DL due to a fractured hamate bone. …Amed Rosario was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday, instead serving as a pinch hitter and striking out in his lone at-bat. Callaway said there’s no cause for concern and he just wanted to give Rosario a breather after he started all three games in the Mets’ opening series against the Braves.
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