CLEVELAND -- Twins Minor League first baseman Kennys Vargas received a 50-game suspension on Thursday following a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Vargas, on the roster of the Rookie League Elizabethton Twins, tested positive for the banned substance Phentermine. The suspension will take place immediately.

In 44 games this season, Vargas is batting .322 with six homers and 33 RBIs. He will miss the final 18 games of Elizabethton's season.

Cuddyer latest victim of injury bug

CLEVELAND -- Twenty-five minutes.

That's how long the Twins escaped the injury bug before the critter plagued its next Minnesota victim. Shortly after Justin Morneau and Alexi Casilla rejoined the big league club Friday, Michael Cuddyer strained his neck during early batting practice.

"From 2:00 to 2:25, we had our team back," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I looked at my watch because I saw [catcher] Joe Mauer walking out, waving me in, and it was 2:25, so we had 25 solid minutes of everybody out there. I felt pretty good for those 25 minutes."

Gardenhire said the pain and stiffness in Cuddyer's neck started to alleviate as the day wore on.

"His last swing during early BP, he popped something in his neck, and it was hurting," Gardenhire said. "He was hurting, but it was starting to loosen up. ... We'll just have to go day to day."

Cuddyer wasn't in Friday's lineup, but for the first time since June 9, Morneau was.

The first baseman had surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment in his neck on June 29. He played seven rehab games with Triple-A Rochester before returning to the Twins' lineup. Morneau said he still has numbness in his left index finger.

"[Doctors said] it could be a while," Morneau said. "Some people get instant relief and some people don't. But the strength feels a lot better down my arm and shoulder. It's just the numbness that could take a while. ... But that's not something I'm too worried about now."

In 55 games, Morneau is hitting .225 with four home runs and 21 RBIs.

Casilla returned to the lineup on Friday for the first time since July 27. He had been out with a strained right hamstring. The second baseman is hitting .259 with two homers and 21 RBIs.

The Twins haven't used any particular starting lineup more than four times this season. Gardenhire had penciled in 98 different batting orders entering Friday's contest, the Twins' 118th game of the year. Even with the onset of Cuddyer's injury, Gardenhire sees the light at the end of the tunnel of pain.

"It's exciting; we've got Alexi and [pitcher Kevin] Slowey back up here, so a lot of pieces," Gardenhire said. "We're getting there. But it's fun to see Morneau, he's fired up. He's really excited to be back."

Blyleven and Alomar cross paths again

CLEVELAND -- The paths of Bert Blyleven and Robbie Alomar have crossed numerous times during their baseball lives. The two recent Hall of Fame inductees joined together again at Progressive Field on Friday.

Blyleven played with Alomar's father, Sandy Sr., in 1977 in Texas. Later in his career, the right-hander pitched to the up-and-coming second baseman. Then, in July, the two were enshrined into baseball's lexicon of greats.

"It's a great honor to be part of a very elite eternity," Blyleven said. "Not too many guys get an opportunity to wear a ring like this one here. It's something that I will cherish the rest of my life."

Blyleven noticed Alomar's talent right away, saying he always had "great hands."

"He might be one of the best defensive second basemen that's ever played the game of baseball," Blyleven said.

Blyleven is appreciative of the physical aspect of his induction into the Hall of Fame.

"Now my bronze head will go down in baseball history."

Slowey set to start against Indians on Sunday

CLEVELAND -- While the Twins lineup received a boost Friday with the additions of Justin Morneau and Alexi Casilla, the pitching staff welcomed back starter Kevin Slowey.

Slowey strained an abdominal muscle in May and was activated from the 15-day disabled list on July 21. But without a spot in the starting rotation available, he was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. The Twins recalled Slowey after placing right-hander Scott Baker on the DL on Tuesday with a right flexor muscle strain in his elbow.

"[Slowey] is starting Sunday," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He feels good."

Sunday's outing will be Slowey's first start of the season. He has made six appearances in 2011, all out of the bullpen. He won 35 games as a starter between 2008-10.

In his six relief appearances this season, Slowey has no record and a 4.91 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.

Slowey threw a bullpen session upon his arrival in Cleveland on Friday afternoon. The right-hander said he's excited about the improving health of the club as a whole. The Twins welcomed back first baseman Justin Morneau and second baseman Alexi Casilla from injuries on Friday as well.

"It'll be nice to see our lineup, up and down, a little more healthy and ready to go," Slowey said. "A lot of guys have battled through a lot of injuries."