Decided to sit in on Charlie Manuel's pre-game news conference today, since I enjoy checking in with the Phillies' colorful manager. Thtat made me late to Jerry Manuel's session, and as I walked in, I was immediately taken aback when I heard Manuel discussing the idea of starting Fernando Nieve Saturday in Milwaukee.

Yup, that's apparently the plan. It is, of course, a crazy and terrible plan.

Sometimes, you've got to know when to fold 'em on a player. Nieve pitched in 14 games in April and recorded a 3.46 ERA, striking out 10 (and walking eight) in 13 innings. In May, he has an 8.00 with six strikeouts and eight walks in 12 appearances, totaling nine innings.

The solution is not to promote Nieve to starter. It's to designate him for assignment and move on.

--Jeff Francoeur told Newsday's David Lennon today that the Mets veterans are reaching out to Darryl Strawberry to smooth over the tensions that emerged last week, when Strawberry attempted to give a pep talk to some of the struggling veterans.

As Bob Klapisch reported, Strawberry is upset and has vowed not to return to the Mets' clubhouse. My hunch is that Strawberry will get over it and come back. if he really wants to help the Mets, he'll learn how to be more of a diplomat, like Reggie Jackson is with the Yankees. That doesn't mean that Strawberry was in the wrong, but you do have to know your audience.

--In light of the Phillies losing their last two games to knuckleballers Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, a Philadelphia reporter asked Manuel if he feared showing up to learn that the Mets were starting Wilbur Wood.

"If Wilbur Wood pitches," the 66-year-old Manuel said, smiling, "I might play."

--It's an obvious point, but worth repeating: The near-certain availability of Cliff Lee will make it even more difficult for the Astros to find an attractive trade for Roy Oswalt. The Lee sweepstakes figure to be the highlight of the trading season, and given how poorly the Mariners are playing (although they came back to beat the Tigers today), you wonder whether Seattle will try to get a trade done in June.

The more Lee starts they can offer suitors, after all, the more the Mariners can request in return.

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--Sammy Sosa won't be investigated for perjury charges, in a non-shocking development. And I keep forgetting to mention that Brian McNamee tesitifed earlier this week to a grand jury looking into Roger Clemens' possible perjury.

I don't profess to be an attorney, nor do I say that I'm in the loop as to what the Feds know about Clemens. But the common-sense-owner in me wonders, what could the government folks possibly have on Clemens that would make them possibly think, "Yeah, we can get this guy"?

I loved the Clemens Congressional hearing of 2008. But with the benefit of two years' reflection, and possessing some grasp of the burden of proof, I find myself wondering, "Did anything presented that day really confirm Clemens' illegal PED usage to the point that he would actually be convicted of perjury?"

McNamee's testimony? No. Andy Pettitte's? Nope. The information from the 1998 cyst? No again.

I eagerly await the resolution of this, which appears to be coming sooner than later.

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