Paul O'Neill's broken rib has improved and he expects to be in the lineup Wednesday night for the start of the American League championship series.
"It's better today than a few days ago," the Yankees' right fielder said Tuesday. "I feel better knowing what it is. Before, it was like `I don't want to do too much, I might tear something.' It's going to be there. It is there when I wake up in the morning; it is there when I go to bed at night."
O'Neill took about two dozen swings in the batting cage Tuesday before manager Joe Torre, bench coach Don Zimmer, trainer Gene Monahan and team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon as the team worked out for its opener against the Boston Red Sox.
"It felt pretty good," he said. "I had some batting practice, I threw, I ran. If I don't feel I can play and help my team win, I won't play. If I worry about it, I shouldn't be out there."
The Yankees can make roster changes until 10 a.m. Wednesday and Torre said they would wait until the deadline to make a decision.
"He said he felt pretty good," Torre said of O'Neill. "Probably as good as he did in the early part of the Texas series. He gave himself a good workout."
O'Neill was injured in the final week of the season at Tampa when he ran into a low fence in foul territory.
He played the first two games of the division series against Texas, going 2-for-8. Torre sat him out for Game 3 at Texas and after the Yankees returned home, he learned of the broken rib diagnosis Monday.
O'Neill said he felt the pain most at bat.
"It comes and goes a bit," he said.
He is being treated with heat and whirlpool and pain killers.
"I don't even know the names of a lot of the things," he said. "I haven't taken that much stuff."
"As of now, I'm playing unless I wake up tomorrow and something I did today sets it back, which I don't think anything has. If we were an hour from the game right now, I am pretty sure that Joe would have me in the lineup. That's the way I look at it."
Shane Spencer, inactive for the division series, probably would replace O'Neill on the roster.
O'Neill batted .298 with two home runs and six runs batted in against the Red Sox this season. Spencer hit .111 on 3-for-18.
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