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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Relaxed Selig avoids deadline on Rose issue

Thursday, March 13, 2003

War could cancel the opening games in Japan for the Mariners and Athletics.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Bud Selig is in no hurry to decide whether to reinstate Pete Rose -- not while the baseball commissioner is enjoying his most relaxing spring in years.
"This is not a popularity contest or anything," Selig said. "In the end, I'll have to do what I think is right."
During a stop at the San Francisco Giants' spring training home Sunday, Selig touched on a number of topics, including future All-Star game sites and the slim possibility that the regular-season opener in Japan could be canceled if the United States goes to war.
When asked about the Rose saga, the commissioner was characteristically noncommittal. He didn't say whether baseball will meet with the banned career hits leader or his representatives before spring training ends. He feels no pressure to reach a decision before opening day.
"We're very deliberate, very cautious," Selig said. "I know there's strong feelings on both sides. There's nothing new. I'm waiting for the results of the various investigations that are going on."
Denial continues
Rose agreed to a permanent ban in August 1989 following an investigation of his gambling. While baseball investigator John Dowd detailed 412 baseball wagers in 1987, including 52 on Cincinnati to win, Rose has repeatedly denied he bet on baseball.
Baseball officials have said Rose must admit he bet on baseball if he is to gain reinstatement. As long as he is banned, he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballot.
"I don't feel pressure from anybody. Every decision I've had since I became commissioner -- the only pressure I've felt has been from within," Selig said.
There's not much pressure on Selig these days -- at least not nearly as much as he has faced in the past. With no impending crises or attention-grabbing distractions, Selig plans to enjoy himself before traveling to Tokyo in two weeks for baseball's season-opening games between Oakland and Seattle.
"We start this season for the first time in many, many years with no cloud hanging over us for a work stoppage or anything else," Selig said. "I can't tell you how much more I'm enjoying this spring compared to the last one."
Still, Selig acknowledged there's an outside chance the trip to Japan could be canceled if war breaks out.
The Athletics and Mariners are scheduled to play two exhibition games against Japanese teams before facing each other in regular-season games March 25-26.