Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, said Friday the application for reinstatement from Pete Rose will be given a "full and fresh look." (Tweet This)
Manfred, who took over as head of MLB in January, told CNBC he's open to talking with Rose, who in 1989 accepted a lifetime ban from baseball for gambling.
But the commissioner was adamant concerning his feelings about baseball's no tolerance rule on gambling. "The most fundamental rule in baseball that's been there forever is Rule 21. It prohibits anybody who's on the field from betting on baseball or betting on any sport. The rule is clear that if you bet on baseball you will be banished for life."
Refusing to say whether he's already made up his mind about Rose, Manfred said in a "Squawk Box" interview: "The passage of time if nothing else, changes I think the situation somewhat. Mr. Rose has suggested to me he has things he wants me to understand about the situation. I'll give him a full opportunity."
But the question about whether Rose should be allowed into the baseball Hall of Fame is not a decision for the league, Manfred said.
"My job is to protect the integrity of the field," he continued. "If you are on the permanently ineligible list, you can't work in the game."
"Whether or not you're eligible for the Hall of Fame is a product of the Hall of Fame decision to follow our ineligibility list," he explained. "I don't control the Hall of Fame rule."
To those who say the gambling rule is too harsh compared to the penalties for steroid use, Manfred said, "The rule on steroids probably should not be quite as strict ... [as] the rule on gambling."
"The difficulty with the steroid issue is there are a continuum of products out there that can cause players problems. It's one of those areas that every sport struggles with," he said.
The current rules on steroids in baseball—agreed to by MLB and the players association—are an unpaid 80-game suspension for the first positive test result, an unpaid 162-game suspension for a second offense and a permanent ban for a third violation.
The bottom line on the gambling versus steroid-use debate is clear, as far as Manfred sees it, "The gambling rule is so fundamental to the integrity of the game that it should always stay where it is."