O'Neill tests rib, says he's ready to play; Fracture said bearable; Red Sox delete Wakefield; Playoff notes


New York Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill went through his normal workout routine yesterday and tentatively declared himself fit to play in tonight's opening game of the AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

O'Neill has been questionable since doctors determined Monday that the soreness in his right side was the result of a fractured rib, suffered crashing into the fence during a late-season game.

He appeared in two games of the Division Series against the Texas Rangers, but sat out the final game because of soreness.

"I went through everything today and I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow night," O'Neill said. "Unless I wake up tomorrow and have any big setback, then everything is a go at this point."

ROSTER MOVES: The Red Sox made a couple of roster adjustments, adding pitchers Pat Rapp and Bryce Florie and deleting veterans Tim Wakefield and John Wasdin. Manager Jimy Williams also announced that Kent Mercker would start Game 1 tonight against the Yankees' Orlando Hernandez.

In Game 2, the Red Sox plan to start Ramon Martinez against David Cone. Pedro Martinez is scheduled to start Game 3 at Fenway Park against former Red Sox ace Roger Clemens, with Bret Saberhagen in Game 4 against Andy Pettitte.

BRAVES: Though Jose Hernandez received most of the starts at shortstop down the stretch, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox turned to Walt Weiss last night in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.

"Walt's been here for a while. He's a very good shortstop. He feels really great," Cox said. "He looked good in Houston when he came in, and Don [Baylor, hitting coach] has him swinging a lot better right now."

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