Baseball's all-time hit leader is having a hard time believing Alex Rodriguez.
Pete Rose, who was given a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on the game while managing the Cincinnati Reds in the 1980s, said during an interview on WFAN radio in New York on Friday that Rodriguez was experienced enough to know better than to take a banned substance when the slugger signed with the Rangers before the 2001 season.
"He wasn't a young kid not knowing what he was doing," Rose said of Rodriguez, who had spent seven years in Seattle before joining Texas.
Rose also doesn't believe pressure to live up to a landmark $252 million contract was a valid reason for Rodriguez to turn to performance-enhancing drugs.
"When I became a Philadelphia Phillie for the '79 season, I signed a contract that made me the highest paid player in any team sport," Rose said. "I didn't go to Philly with the pressure to hit .360 or .370. The only pressure you have is an obligation to the fans to play hard and bust your chops."
During an interview with ESPN earlier this week, Rodriguez said that he "felt an enormous amount of pressure" when he signed with the Rangers, adding, "I was young, I was stupid, I was naive. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all-time."
Rose told WIP radio in Philadelphia on Thursday that he also didn't believe Rodriguez was unaware of what substances he was guilty of using, or that Rodriguez quit using performance-enhancing drugs after 2003.
"If you're A-Rod and you're using from 2001 to 2003 and you hit 52 home runs a year, aren't you thinking about using it in 2004?" Rose said. "With that kind of success, are you going to say, 'I don't need this anymore?' I don't know how it works. I don't know the mind-set of a guy that does that."
While Rose said he exchanges text messages with Rodriguez, and that he will continue to "be a supporter of A-Rod," he's upset by what he perceives as a double-standard between himself and those who have used performance-enhancing drugs.
"I got caught, and I made a terrible mistake," Rose told WFAN. "Guys that are caught [using performance enhancing drugs], nothing happens to them [In terms of punishment by the game unless they did so after 2003]."
As for the media whirlwind that has surrounded Rodriguez over the past week, Rose advised the Yankees slugger to "forget about it, don't talk about it, just go out and play baseball. ... If you have a great season in the new Yankee Stadium, everyone will forget about it."
Rose is holding out hope that his ban from the Hall of Fame will be lifted and he'll be given a "second chance." He doesn't believe that those stars whose names have been connected with performance-enhancing drugs should be kept out of Cooperstown.
"If you're talking about [Barry] Bonds, I'd vote for him," Rose said. "If you're talking about [Roger]Clemens, I'd vote for him. If you're talking about [Rafael] Palmeiro, I'd vote for him."