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Notes: Cuddyer eyes return from DL

Notes: Cuddyer eyes return from DL

CLEVELAND -- The talk surrounding the Twins over the past few days has focused on whether the team will be buyers or sellers leading up to Tuesday's trade deadline.

But regardless of the decision, the Twins might get a boost to their lineup this week -- albeit a non-trade boost.

The club has clearly missed its cleanup hitter, Michael Cuddyer, who has been on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb since July 19. In Cuddyer's absence, the team has hit just .224 with runners in scoring position. It's been even worse over the first five games of the current road trip, with the team just 4-for-27 (.148) with RISP.

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But the good news for the Twins is that it appears they could have Cuddyer back later this week.

Cuddyer is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, and right now he believes he will be ready when the time comes. The outfielder did his first bit of baseball work on Saturday since suffering the injury, hitting off a tee and playing catch.

The swelling in Cuddyer's thumb has gone down dramatically and he said he felt no pain while taking part in the activities on Saturday.

The plan now is to have Cuddyer take live batting practice for the first time when the team returns home on Monday. And while it's not guaranteed that Cuddyer will be ready, there is plenty of reason to have hope that it will be the case.

"I think he's pretty optimistic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just talking to Cuddy, he's pretty fired up. And if he's fired up, that probably means he'll get there."

Back at third: After a scary moment in Saturday's game when he was struck by a line drive in the visitors' dugout, third-base coach Scott Ullger was back coaching the position again on Sunday.

The left side of Ullger's jaw was still swollen and he described the feeling as "like being hit with a Mike Tyson punch."

Ullger said he saw the ball when it was "about two feet from my face," but he somehow managed to turn his face just enough so that it hit him in a spot where nothing was broken.

"He got lucky," Gardenhire said. "That was a rocket."

Gardenhire said he could use bench coach Steve Liddle at third base or hitting coach Joe Vavra if Ullger were to get woozy at all during the game. He also had a surprise volunteer for the spot -- Luis Castillo. The second baseman was given the day off to rest his legs, but he offered his services, a notion that left Gardenhire chuckling.

Moment in the spotlight: The ecstatic feeling Jason Tyner had after hitting his first home run didn't seem to have eased up by Sunday morning.

It was quite a hectic night for the Twins outfielder, who received plenty of notoriety for ending his streak of 1,220 at-bats without a home run.

Tyner called in for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" show following Saturday's game and said he saw the highlight of his home run played about "a dozen times" on TV.

Tyner also said he received about 25 text messages and a handful of phone calls from friends and family, with an equal mix of congratulatory messages and ones teasing the outfielder.

Minor honor: Class A Fort Myers outfielder Erik Lis was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week for the week ending July 27. The 23-year-old hit .389 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs in five games. Lis was a ninth-round selection by the Twins in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Down on the farm: Left-hander Brian Duensing pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, in Triple-A Rochester's 3-0 win at Scranton on Saturday. Bobby Korecky also pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up his 28th save of the season. ... Double-A New Britain swept both games of its doubleheader with New Hampshire. David Winfree went 2-for-3 with a home run in two RBIs in a 3-0 victory in Game 1 and Luke Hughes delivered two solo homers in the Rock Cats' 4-3 win in Game 2. ... Johnny Woodard hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to carry Fort Myers to a 4-2 victory over Tampa. ... Garrett Olson was 4-for-4 with an RBI in Class A Beloit's 7-6 win over South Bend.

Coming up: The Twins head back to Minnesota for a pair of four-game sets with the Royals and Indians at the Metrodome. It will begin Monday night when Scott Baker (4-4, 5.30) faces off against Kansas City right-hander Gil Meche (7-7, 3.76) in a 7:10 p.m. CT start.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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