PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- It may be difficult to find a middle ground in which Pete Rose would be reinstated by Major League Baseball but limited in the type of work he could do for a club, commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN.com Thursday.
Manfred said that while he's open to discussing different compromise scenarios, "that's going to be a product of the process that we work through with Pete and his representatives."
Speaking with ESPN.com between visits with members of the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, Manfred reiterated that he has "no predisposition on the core issue" of whether Rose deserves to be reinstated. Manfred also said he saw the question of Rose's Hall of Fame eligibility as being separate from the question of: "Can Pete Rose ever work in the game again, in a position that relates to the play of the game?"
However, when the commissioner was asked if it would be possible for Rose to be employed in baseball but not hold a job in which he had an impact on running a team or running a game, Manfred made it clear he believes that would be challenging.
"I'm not sure that human beings can slice that that thin," he said. "You know what I'm saying? You're either in or you're out of the game to some extent. I'm not sure I agree with that."
The commissioner was then asked to clarify whether that meant he saw his only two options in this case as coming down to either allowing Rose to work in baseball, period, or not at all.
"While I don't dismiss the idea that there may be some sort of a middle ground," Manfred said, "I think that it is difficult to sit in New York and monitor a situation where somebody is working at a club but he's allowed to do X but not Y, because there's not enough eyes and ears to do that. I guess that is my concern. Maybe it can be worked out, maybe not. But it is a concern of mine, certainly."
Manfred also suggested that restoring Rose's Hall of Fame eligibility would be more the Hall's call than his.
"Technically, what's within my jurisdiction," he said, "is the question of whether he belongs on the permanently ineligible list, which relates to the integrity of the game and the institution that I'm charged with protecting. The Hall of Fame eligibility issue in some sense belongs to the Hall of Fame."
Under the Hall's current rules, Rose has never been eligible to appear on the ballot of either the Baseball Writers' Association of America or the Veterans Committee, because players on the permanently ineligible list are banned from consideration. So if Rose were to be reinstated, it could be his first step toward reaching the Hall.
Manfred had said earlier this month that he had received a formal request from Rose to lift his lifetime ban from baseball, which was imposed by commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989. The all-time hits leader's previous appeals, from commissioners Fay Vincent and Bud Selig, were never considered.