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What's Ollie's role now? Manuel not sure

MILWAUKEE - In Jerry Manuel's mind, Oliver Perez is buried so deep in the bullpen after Saturday's flop that the lefthander now is basically Jeff Francoeur's setup man.

Remember, it was Francoeur who begged Manuel for a chance to pitch during the 20-inning game in St. Louis. As for Perez, the manager has become so frustrated with him that Manuel could not even come up with a role for him when asked yesterday. "Boy, that's really a tough question," Manuel said. "Right now, it would probably have to be something similar to extra innings or something like that. It's going to be tough to find a spot."

Perez flunked his latest test by allowing three runs in two innings, including a two-run homer by Corey Hart. Called on to replace Fernando Nieve, Perez turned a 5-2 deficit into a 7-3 hole, and after Ike Davis' three-run homer made it 7-6, he immediately gave up another run on a triple and groundout.

Despite his nowhere role, Perez insisted again Saturday that he will not accept a demotion to Triple-A Buffalo. But Manuel said Sunday that the process is "ongoing," with the Mets hoping that Perez eventually will give in. "I would think it's something worth doing just to get him somewhat straightened out," Manuel said.

Perez was 0-3 with a 5.94 ERA in seven starts; in three relief appearances, he has a 10.13 ERA.

Elmer for the eighth?

Add Elmer Dessens to the crowded eighth-inning mix. With the Mets leading 6-4, Pedro Feliciano walked Prince Fielder to open the eighth, but Dessens got Casey McGehee on a double-play grounder, then Hart on a fly ball. Said Manuel, "He's a veteran guy, and he's fearless, so he could be a guy that you'll see in that spot, as long as he keeps it clean."

Extra bases

Bullpen coach Randy Niemann left the team to be with his ailing mother. Guy Conti was called up from Florida to replace him . . . The Mets have not committed an error in eight games, which is a season high.

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