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Hansel Robles surprised by his demotion to Vegas

Mets pitcher Hansel Robles throws during a spring

Mets pitcher Hansel Robles throws during a spring training game against the Braves on Feb. 23, 2018, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Life comes at you fast sometimes. Mets reliever Hansel Robles learned that the hard way on Friday when he was demoted to minor-league camp after a poor spring training.

Robles, who appeared in 171 games for the Mets over the past three seasons, had a 9.26 spring training ERA when he received the news. New manager Mickey Callaway delivered a pointed message to Robles and then shared it with the media.

“He’s got good stuff,” Callaway said. “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.”

At 27, Robles has reached a crossroads in his career. Is he going to rebound from this demotion and live up to his ability? Or is he going to become one of the dozens of big-armed pitchers who fill the rosters of Triple-A teams when their stuff says they should be in the majors?

“I will talk to him,” Mets closer Jeurys Familia said of his friend on Saturday. “I will call him and talk to him. Give him a few days to think, then I’ll talk to him. He has to improve those things that Mickey says to be available to play in the big leagues. Sometimes, the little things make a big difference in this game. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you throw hard, if you throw 100 (miles per hour). If you don’t do the little things, it’s tough to be in that situation, especially for relievers. Don’t worry about throwing 100, 99.”

Familia, another righthander with a big arm, said he learned how to be a big-leaguer from former Mets teammates LaTroy Hawkins and Bartolo Colon.

“[Colon] reminded me every day,” he said. “The little things in the big leagues are the most important because everybody in the big leagues has great stuff. There’s a million guys in the minor leagues who have better stuff than the guys in the big leagues. But the guys in the big leagues do the little things like they said.”

Callaway said holding on runners and being able to repeat his delivery as two of the “little things” Robles needs to master.

Robles is 17-12 with a 3.97 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 188 1⁄3 major-league innings. But his ERA last season was a career-worst 4.92. He was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas with a 6.23 ERA on May 23 and didn’t return until July 17.

Robles put up a 4.11 ERA in the second half of the season and came to camp with an almost guaranteed bullpen spot. Now he’s headed back to Vegas with no assurances the Mets’ new dugout regime will ever bring him back to Flushing.

“It was kind of a shock to him, but he knows he needs to work on some of the small things,” Callaway said. “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.’ ”

New York Sports