Pete Rose's mind is spinning, his imagination unchecked, just hours before stepping onto the field Monday night as manager for the first time in 25 years.

Sure, this is nothing more than a publicity stunt, serving as the unofficial manager of the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish of the Independent Atlantic League. Rose will actually be standing in the third-base coach's box, so the fans can see him, instead of actually managing the team on the bench.

"You think I want to be standing in the third-base box with some 240-pound guy swinging at the plate?'' Rose tells USA TODAY Sports. "I don't want this guy hitting a rocket and killing me out there. Where I really want to be is on the bench.

"That's where I belong. Really, where I belong is back in baseball. I still believe it can happen.''

Yes, he's talking within seven months, before Commissioner Bud Selig leaves office Jan. 24, 2015.

"To be honest with you,'' Rose says, "I really haven't given up on Bud giving me a second chance."

Rose, who received a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 for gambling while managing the Cincinnati Reds, says his hope of being reinstated is buoyed by Selig's approval for him to manage Bridgeport on Monday.