Baseball's banished hits king said yesterday that McGwire, who is on the ballot for the first time, ought to be voted in despite his refusal to discuss steroids.
Rose isn't eligible for the ballot because of his lifetime ban for gambling.
Rose made the case for McGwire by noting that baseball didn't crack down on steroids until after the 2002 season, by which time McGwire had retired.
McGwire hit a then-record 70 homers in 1998, when his race with Sammy Sosa to top Roger Maris' record drew huge crowds and helped the game reshape its image after labor strife.
"Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, I think they kind of saved the game in  with the home run contest," Rose said. "That home run derby kind of brought baseball back."
Rose said he hasn't lost hope on his getting into the Hall of Fame.
"Sure I'd like to go into the Hall of Fame," he said. "More important to me, I'd like to be back in the game. I'm a teacher of the game."
• Yankees // Darryl Strawberry thinks the Yankees' clubhouse is beset by bad chemistry that can be cured only one way: Derek Jeter needs to "embrace" Alex Rodriguez. "They've got to come together," Strawberry said. "It's time for them to mend their relationship and get back to, like, 'OK, let's have some fun. We're here in New York together. We're on the greatest team that we possibly could play on. Let's try to win instead of going separate ways.' Because I remember them when they were young and they went to dinner together and they did everything together."
• More Yankees // In other news, Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa was scheduled to arrive in New York today to have his physical. Igawa's agent, Arn Tellem, and the Yankees have been working toward agreement on a five-year, $20 million contract. The sides are still negotiating the year-to-year breakdown of his salary and what performance bonuses will be included. New York and Igawa have until Dec. 28 to finalize an agreement.
• Giants // San Francisco and free-agent first baseman Ryan Klesko agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.75 million contract, giving the club another option at first along with recently acquired Rich Aurilia. Klesko is another player the Giants have plucked from the rival Padres. San Francisco agreed to a three-year, $18 million contract with center fielder Dave Roberts, and also hired manager Bruce Bochy away from the Padres.
• Rangers // Now that the Rangers have Eric Gagne as their closer, they can concentrate on trying to get another former Cy Young Award winner for their rotation. Texas finalized a one-year, $6 million contract after an extensive physical for Gagne, one of the most dominant closers before injuries the past two seasons. Texas has been negotiating with free agent left-handers Barry Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner, and Mark Mulder.
• Twins // Brad Radke, 34, kept his word and made his retirement official, ending a 12-year career with the Twins that was cut a bit short by a shoulder injury. Also, the Twins and outfielder Rondell White reached a preliminary agreement on a $2.75 million, one-year contract.
• Padres // Second baseman Marcus Giles passed his physical, the last step in completing a deal with his hometown team of San Diego.
• Rockies // The team is close to an agreement with reliever Danny Graves on a minor league contract.