The Yankees learned yesterday that Paul O'Neill has a fractured rib and might not play in the American League Championship Series.

O'Neill was injured Oct. 2 when he crashed into a low fence chasing a foul ball at Tampa Bay.

After playing the first two games of the first-round series against the Texas Rangers, Yankees Manager Joe Torre benched O'Neill for the clincher, convinced the injury was hampering the right fielder.

The team sent O'Neill, 36, to Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center yesterday for new X-rays and an MRI exam, which showed a small fracture of the 10th rib on his right side.

"Sometimes, I guess, it shows up later," O'Neill said after returning from the hospital.

Rosters for the ALCS must be set by 10 a.m. Wednesday, and the Yankees won't make any decisions until then, General Manager Brian Cashman said.

Mets' Rojas Takes Five

New York Mets third-base coach Cookie Rojas was suspended for five games--a penalty to begin with Game 1 of the National League Championship Series--for shoving umpire Charlie Williams in the chest during a playoff game last weekend. NL President Len Coleman issued the suspension and also fined Rojas $500.

Bench coach Bruce Benedict will take over Rojas's spot. Rojas declined comment until he could meet with Coleman, most likely before the Mets open their best-of-seven series with the Braves tonight in Atlanta.

"In our view, it was much steeper than we anticipated," Mets GM Steve Phillips said.

The altercation took place Saturday after Rojas was ejected in the eighth inning of the Mets' clinching 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 4. Rojas became enraged after Williams, the left field umpire, ruled Darryl Hamilton's drive down the line was foul. Replays showed Williams made the correct call.