CLEVELAND - You couldn't make up some of the stuff that has happened to the Twins this season.

Friday, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Alexi Casilla were at early batting practice. During Cuddyer's final swing of the session, he felt something pop in his neck.

Manager Ron Gardenhire was in the outfield at the time and had to be called in to be told Cuddyer couldn't start against the Indians.

Gardenhire looked at his watch. It was 2:25 p.m. He had written out the lineup at 2 p.m.

"So we had 25 solid minutes of everybody out there," he said. "And I [felt] pretty good with those 25 minutes, to tell you the truth."

Cuddyer's neck improved as the afternoon went on, but he likely won't play Saturday, either.

Gardenhire looked forward to having all his regular position players healthy for the first time since April 7. Although Drew Butera catches Carl Pavano, Gardenhire was so eager to see his best team on the field that he started Mauer at catcher instead.

The lineup also featured Morneau and Casilla just off the disabled list -- but Casilla didn't make it through the game, leaving in the seventh when felt a twinge in his right hamstring while running to first. He will be re-evaluated Saturday.

At least Morneau back

He still has no feeling in his left index finger. Hopefully it will improve in time.

The rest of Morneau is, finally, doing fine. He rejoined the club after playing seven games for Class AAA Rochester following surgery in June to remove a herniated disk fragment from his neck, a problem that caused problems all down his left arm.

"For the nerve to repair and get all the way down my finger, it's a long ways, and they don't necessarily regenerate quickly," he said. "That's not something I'm too worried about right now. The strength has been the biggest issue. That feels good. I've been able to lift weights and get into a routine."

Morneau swung with one good arm for most of the season. He also was distancing himself from the concussion that ended his 2010 season last July. He began this season with shoulder problems, numbness in his fingers and on medication following his concussion.

"My swing, as far as to being able to drive the ball to all fields, I don't feel like I need to be looking in to be able to hit a fastball in,'' he said.

Slowey's here, too

When Kevin Slowey was last seen in a major league clubhouse, he spoke of how the Twins might not be a good fit for him because he couldn't start. He was on his way to Fort Myers, Fla., to mend an abdominal strain, and it seemed like he had thrown his last pitch for the Twins.

But he returned after going 1-2 with a 3.55 ERA in seven games at Rochester. He will replace injured Scott Baker in the rotation.

Slowey wondered whether he was coming back, too. "Obviously, I'm back here right now and this is where I am and I'm happy to be here," he said.

Some teammates weren't happy how Slowey handled his situation. And he had a testy conversation with Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson. But everyone Friday appeared ready to move forward. Slowey said he didn't foresee any problems with the coaching staff.

"Not at all,'' Slowey said. "They are professionals and I consider myself to be a professional. And I think, as much as anything, we just want to win here."

Said Gardenhire: "We've got a situation where we need a starter and we'll put him in there in a starting role, and that's where he can pitch. All that other stuff doesn't mean a thing. ... I'm happy to have him; he can help us win."


• Indications are top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson will seek a second opinion on his right elbow. Gibson was diagnosed earlier this week with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. The Twins said Gibson was going to try rehabilitation and not surgery.

• Recently enshrined Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven threw out the first pitch before the game. Blyleven played with the Indians for five seasons, going 48-37.