Reds P Johnny Ruffin was fined $1,000 and given a six-month suspended jail sentence after he pleaded no contest yesterday to a 1995 charge of driving without a license.

Ruffin, 25, was placed on a year of probation. He appeared today in Hamilton County Municipal Court in Ohio on the October 1995 misdemeanor charge, after having missed a November 1995 court hearing in the case. An arrest warrant had been issued for his failure to appear.

Ruffin also had his driver's license suspended for 90 days beginning today.

Police discovered Ruffin's 1995 failure to appear by doing a computer check on April 9, when they pulled over a car Ruffin was riding in for investigation of a traffic violation. Ruffin was charged in April with failure to wear a seat belt, a misdemeanor. That charge was dismissed today.

Still pending are allegations from July 11, when Ruffin was charged with speeding and driving without a license, police said.

Ruffin said he failed to appear in court last year because he was sent to the minors. The relief pitcher has been with the Reds since late in the 1993 season. WETTELAND MAY RETURN: The Yankees likely will activate closer John Wetteland off the 15-day disabled list today. Wetteland, the American League leader with 38 saves, missed the past three weeks with a pulled right groin muscle.

New York has struggled in his absence, going 9-13 with setup pitcher Mariano Rivera forced to close games. Rivera had two saves in that span, and his earned run average dropped 0.25. However, the pitchers filling in for Rivera in the setup role couldn't hold several leads.