Houston: Oswalt's got a problem

Astros general manager Ed Wade - we think Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may have met him once or twice - says Houston ace Roy Oswalt has asked to be traded.

Wade says Oswalt's agent contacted Houston owner Drayton McLane earlier this week to make the request.

The Astros went into Friday night's game against Tampa Bay with the worst record in the National League at 14-27.

Oswalt is 2-6 despite a 2.66 ERA. He has gotten the lowest run support in the league.

The 32-year-old Oswalt has a no-trade clause in his contract, but said he would be willing to waive it. (Really, Ruben - hasn't it been way too long since you and Ed last talked?)

As the Mets turn

When a reliever is warming up in the bullpen before the first pitch of the game, that might be a clue you're a candidate for the early hook.

Still, for most of Friday, New York Mets pitcher John Maine remained shocked and angry that manager Jerry Manuel had pulled him Thursday night in Washington after just five pitches - a walk to Nyjer Morgan, in which his velocity topped out at 85 m.p.h.

The righthander, whose speed hasn't returned to the 95-m.p.h. neighborhood he was in before 2008 surgery to remove a growth from his right shoulder socket, told ESPN: "I don't care if it's 95. I don't care if it's 75 m.p.h. - I just want to go out there and pitch."

Manuel passed up the chance to get into it, saying, "I told him I was trying to protect his best interests, and that I know that he's a competitor."

But pitching coach Dan Warthen, whose concern over Maine's inability to hit 80 m.p.h. in the bullpen and the "maybe half a dozen" warm-up pitches he bounced prompted him to warn Manuel to get someone ready, had no problem stepping in.

"I just didn't think John had enough to compete," Warthen said. " . . . John's a habitual liar in a lot of ways as far as his own health."

"I was asked in the bullpen if [reliever Raul] Valdes should get up and throw, and I said 'No,' " Maine said. "I said, 'I'm out here to pitch, and that's what I want to do.' I said, 'Regardless of what happens, it could be 10 runs in an inning . . . I want to pitch.' " (The fans would love that, no doubt. The Nationals fans, we mean.)

Maine reportedly skipped a doctor's appointment and he and Manuel still had not spoken before the Mets played the New York Yankees on Friday night at Citi Field, but the pitcher seemed to have calmed down.

Though still insisting he felt fine, he said would see a team doctor. "I'm not on bad terms with anybody," Maine said. "I'll go out and pitch lefthanded if I have to. I just want to pitch." (We all do, John. We all do.)

Before the game against the Yankees, the Mets said they had put Maine on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder weakness and will have more tests next week.

Lincecum's only human

San Francisco's Tim Lincecum lasted just five innings after giving up five runs and five hits in an 8-7 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. The Giants ace had gone at least six innings in each of his first eight starts this year and hadn't given up more than three runs. He struck out six to bring his season total to 75, but he also walked five for the second straight start and needed 68 pitches to get the first 12 outs.

Maybe he had hitting on his mind. Manager Bruce Bochy batted him eighth in the lineup.