NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Pete Rose will be arriving soon at a federal prison camp in Marion, Ill., to begin a five-month sentence, and that's welcome news to the inmates.

"Everyone here wants to meet him and talk to him," said Mark Bailey, an East Chicago, Ind., native finishing the last two weeks of a seven-month sentence.

"We don't know if we want Pete Rose on the team," said William "Catfish" Haas, an inmate who manages the Undertakers, one of several prison softball teams. "The other guys might quit."

IT SOUNDS BAD: The Mets report that Dwight Gooden has a minor injury -- a muscular imbalance in his right shoulder -- and that he might miss a start. Then again, they say, he might take his regular turn Friday against the Cardinals.

Nothing's ever minor in New York, of course, and Newsday reports the shoulder is "partially dislocated" but that the Mets shunned that term. Then again, Newsday quoted the Mets trainer as calling a partial dislocation common, saying "eight out of 10 pitchers here have it to some degree."

JULY FOOL: Boston pitcher Mike Boddicker, who gave the Brewers seven runs on nine hits in a 13-0 loss Monday, said his streak of bad luck against them might have evolved from an April Fool's joke he pulled on his father-in-law.

Boddicker told him he'd been traded to the Brewers. Then when he tried to call back and tell the truth -- that he really hadn't been traded -- the phone was busy for five hours.

"It's just a payback for the April Fool's joke. That's all I can think of," said Boddicker, who is 0-3 against Milwaukee this season, all three losses on shutouts.

REAL ODD: Bret Saberhagen's 1990 troubles have followed the inexplicable odd-even cycle of his entire career. In odd-numbered years since his career began in 1984, he has gone 20-6, 18-10 and 23-6. His records in even-numbered years are 10-11, 7-12, 14-16 and 5-7.