MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Cuddyer got a huge laugh at his own expense on Tuesday night, when he tripped while running the basepaths and did a headfirst tumble onto his back. But now, he's not laughing quite so hard about the fall. That's because Cuddyer was out of the Twins lineup for the third consecutive day due to back stiffness and it's unclear as to just how many more days it will take for him to be able to return.
Cuddyer initially felt that doing a somersault of sorts was the best thing to do as he felt he might go face first into the dirt. It hasn't turned out that way, as Cuddyer has dealt with intense back stiffness after landing on his helmet when he did the spectacular fall. "If my helmet had stayed on my head, then it would have been a smart thing," Cuddyer said. "I would have been fine. But the helmet came off and I landed right on top of it. I crushed the helmet and can't use that helmet anymore." A crushed helmet is the least of the Twins worries as they are more concerned about when Cuddyer will be able to return to the lineup. The team clearly missed its cleanup hitter over the past two games as the Nos. 3-5 hitters left a total of 21 batters stranded in the two games Cuddyer was out while driving in just four runs. And even though Cuddyer's numbers against Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield aren't exactly spectacular, having gone just 3-for-14, it's clear that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would love to have had his right fielder available to play in this contest. "You never worry about Michael Cuddyer's numbers against any pitcher, you just want him in the lineup," Gardenhire said. "We'll just come in each day and hopefully he'll get a little better and we'll be able to get him back out there." Cuddyer said he was feeling better on Friday but he was still was not going to take part in any pregame work like taking batting practice or any running drills. Cuddyer said he hopes to do at least something before Saturday's contest, but it's a wait and see approach he's taking right now. "I hope it's just a couple days," Cuddyer said of his return. "Today it definitely feels a lot better than yesterday. Yesterday was by far the worst it felt." Hard lesson: The Twins have not been exempt from the sadness that has encompassed baseball since Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident this past Sunday. But while all the teams have grieved, they have also tried to use the tragedy and the unfortunate incidents that happened to Hancock as a bit of a lesson for players about the deadly consequences of drinking and driving. Reports were released on Friday that said Hancock had been driving with a blood alcohol level of .1578, nearly double the legal limit in Missouri. And though Hancock wasn't reported to have been drinking in the clubhouse, the recent tragedy has opened discussions as to whether alcohol should be banned from Major League clubhouses. Something that the Oakland A's did after pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested for drinking and driving after leaving the team clubhouse in Oakland. The Twins are one organization that does not allow alcohol in its home clubhouse as a rule by general manager Terry Ryan and it's something that Cuddyer feels might be a step in the right direction. "Mr. Ryan doesn't like any alcohol in the clubhouse and so it's not here," Cuddyer said. "So yeah, it could be a smart thing. At the same time, it's guys that need to make their own decisions and need to make smart decisions about drinking and driving. But maybe if it's not there, it's a better decision." Short on lefties: The Red Sox lineup features some potent left-handed hitters in David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, but it will be a right-handed Twins pitcher that will have to get them out in Friday's game. The Twins bullpen was without a left-handed option for the opener against the Red Sox on Friday night, as Dennys Reyes and Glen Perkins both were deemed unavailable. Reyes has been dealing with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder and has not pitched since Saturday. The Twins doctors were scheduled to look at the shoulder before the game to make sure that it's just tendinitis and nothing else that is causing the soreness. Perkins wasn't able to go either as he pitched three innings in Thursday's game against the Devil Rays. Change in plans: The Twins three-game series at Cleveland in August has undergone a schedule change. The two teams have agreed to move the game originally scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, to Monday, Aug. 27. The change was made to allow the Indians and Mariners to make up one of their postponed games from the first week of the season on a mutual off-day. The Twins-Indians games are now scheduled for Aug. 27-29, with the start times all scheduled at 6:05 p.m. CT. Balloting begins: Friday night marked the start of All-Star balloting at the Metrodome. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite Twins and Major League players by filling out All-Star Game ballots available throughout the Metrodome through June 17. Balloting is also currently available on Twinsbaseball.com. Fans can cast their votes online up to 25 total times for their favorite players. Online balloting is currently available and will continue until Thursday, June 28, at 10:59 p.m. CT. Quotable: "Catwalks, snipers out between second and third where guys were falling down tripping -- it was one heck of a series. We had a lot of things happen like balls going up that didn't come down. It's dome baseball at its finest. It happens here, too. We've seen crazy things here. But that might have topped ours." -- Gardenhire, on the troubles his team found at Tropicana Field when it lost two out of three to the Rays Coming up: The Twins will host the Red Sox for Game 2 of their three-game set on Saturday night in a 6:10 p.m. CT start. Twins ace Johan Santana will get the start for Minnesota as he faces Boston right-hander Julian Tavarez.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.