Report called 'unfounded' and 'irresponsible'

Major League Baseball's chief operating officer, Bob DuPuy, shot down a Baseball Prospectus report Tuesday that claimed Pete Rose already has signed an agreement to be reinstated in 2004, calling it "totally unfounded, totally unsubstantiated" and "journalistically irresponsible."

DuPuy, who spoke to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, said there has been "no decision, no agreement, no nothing" clearing the way for Rose to return to the game next year.

Baseball Prospectus, in a statement in response to DuPuy's denial, stood by its story, saying the report "was compiled using reliable sources. We believe that, in the end, our report will be found to be accurate."

Warren Greene, Rose's business agent, said Tuesday no agreement has been reached.

""We absolutely know nothing of it," Greene said.

On Thursday, commissioner Bud Selig called the report "indefensible, disgraceful and fiction."

In his first comments on the report, Selig said, "This is as irresponsible a bit of journalism as I've ever seen in my career."

Selig wouldn't discuss the Rose ban further -- saying that because he's the judge in this case, it's inappropriate for him to comment.

A number of different sources familiar with Rose's situation have told Stark in recent days that Rose's case will become a top priority for Selig right after the World Series. And indications are that, barring some unforeseen development, Rose could be reinstated before Thanksgiving.

However, contrary to the Baseball Prospectus report, the sources have consistently indicated that Rose would have to admit to betting on baseball and would have to apologize for damage he's done to the sport.

In fact, it wasn't until Rose sent word to Selig that he was open to some sort of admission and apology that the commissioner changed his stance last year on reinstatement.

"When a decision is made, it will be reported through the appropriate channels," DuPuy said in a statement later Tuesday.

Those same sources also dispute Baseball Prospectus' report that Rose would be able to manage, or take any other job in baseball without restrictions, starting in 2005. ESPN has been reporting for months that the commissioner would have to specifically approve any job Rose is offered in baseball. Sources also have said it's unlikely Rose would be permitted to manage at any point in the foreseeable future.

Last week, Stark reported that Cincinnati Reds owner Carl Lindner intends to hire Rose as the team's manager and has agitated for Rose's reinstatement for some time.

According to Tuesday's report, published on Baseball Prospectus' Internet site (the organization also provides content for ESPN.com), Rose signed an agreement after a series of preseason meetings involving himself, Hall of Famer and former Phillies teammate Mike Schmidt, and at different times, high-level representatives of Major League Baseball including Selig and DuPuy.

Rose has been banned from the game for life since reaching an agreement in 1989 with then-commissioner Bart Giamatti. The agreement did not include an admission that Rose bet on baseball. The deal ended an investigation of baseball's all-time hits leader.

Rose's last season was 1986, and Hall of Fame eligibility rules require that a player appear on the ballot within 20 years of the end of his playing career. If he is reinstated but not included on the 2004 ballot, Rose would have one year of eligibility for election by voters at large. If Rose is not elected by a vote, he would have to be elected by the Veterans' Committee.