The baseball commissioner's office wanted Pete Rose to "step aside," as Cincinnati Reds manager until it completed its investigation into his gambling activities, but he refused, it was reported Saturday.

The subject was brought up early in the investigation by someone in the commissioner's office, Hal Bodley, baseball editor for USA Today, said in a telephone interview from his home in suburban Washington, D.C."It was a suggestion, not an edict, and not even a request," Bodley said.

"The commissioner's office did not order him to step aside, did not request him to step aside," Bodley said earlier on CNN's Baseball '89. ". . . but it's one of these things where they would have liked for him to do it.

"Pete said `no,' I think it was the right thing to say, frankly, because if he had stepped aside, that would have been a clear admission of guilt on his part."