Highly touted prospect Jay Bruce made his debut for the Reds on Tuesday night, going 3-for-3 with two runs and a pair of RBIs in the Reds' 9-6 victory over the Pirates.

"He was ready for some time, but we wanted to give him more time and give more opportunities to the guys we have here," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com. "When Jay comes up, he'll play a lot. We wouldn't bring him up and not play him."

Gomez becoming indispensable: Center fielder Carlos Gomez has made enough of an impact through the first two months of the season that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire considers him indispensable, not only in the field, but also at the top of the batting order.

"He's playing the heck out of it," Gardenhire told MLB.com. "You get him back on the field, we are a better team when he is out there in center field and when he is in our lineup. And that says a lot about a young player."

Monkey business for Big Hurt: Frank Thomas was serenaded for his 40th birthday during the A's pre-batting practice stretch on Tuesday by a pith-helmeted woman dressed in a gorilla suit carrying a banana. While his teammates got a laugh from his wife's gesture, Thomas was all business.

"I feel great, don't feel 40 at all," Thomas told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't know that means, but I definitely don't feel 40. One of my new goals is to play until I'm 41."

After being released by the Blue Jays earlier this season, Thomas has been reborn with the A's. In his first 28 games with Oakland, Thomas is batting .319 with a .417 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging mark.

Byrdak locates missing strike zone: Signed to a Minor League contract on April 3, left-hander Tim Byrdak has been a great addition to the Astros bullpen since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock on April 23. In 15 games with Houston, Byrdak has thrown 13 scoreless innings.

"I've caught some breaks here and there, but the main thing is, in my situation -- from where I was at in spring to where I'm at now -- it's a matter of going out there and throwing strikes," Byrdak told the Houston Chronicle.

Tavarez signing adds depth to bullpen: The Brewers added some experience to the bullpen by signing right-hander Julian Tavarez.

Tavarez worked out with Milwaukee this past weekend and traveled with the team to Atlanta, where he will be added to the active roster. Taverez started the season with Boston but was released after going 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in nine appearances.

"He hasn't pitched since May 11, but he has been throwing," general manager Doug Melvin, who was on hand for Tavarez's workout, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We've had to bring up the younger, inexperienced guys. They've done a good job, but this adds depth."

Tracy gets the nod fresh off of DL: Chad Tracy was activated from the disabled list and in the lineup at first base on Monday for the Diamondbacks. Tracy can fill in at first base for Conor Jackson, third base for Mark Reynolds or come off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

"We'll see how it goes," Melvin told The Arizona Republic. "We'll see physically where we are from day to day. That's why I don't want to go out and say he'll get 'X' amount of at-bats. It's going to be a feel more than anything else."

Posada works five innings behind plate: Jorge Posada, who has missed a month of action with right rotator cuff tendinitis, played in five innings of an extended Spring Training game on Monday. Posada caught all five innings but was not allowed to throw the ball to the bases. At the plate, he was 0-for-5 with a walk.

"I got a lot of innings behind the plate -- that's all I wanted," Posada told Newsday. "I wanted just to get ready to catch again."

Blalock slowed by carpal tunnel syndrome: Hank Blalock, still experiencing soreness from carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist, was examined on Tuesday by club orthopedist Dr. Keith Meister, who administered a cortisone shot.

Blalock, who will move from third base to first base upon his return, is expected to be out at least through Friday. The club is considering a rehab assignment because he hasn't swung a bat in nearly a week.

"Given that the wrist is involved, it may make sense to have him see live pitching at some point," general manager Jon Daniels told The Dallas Morning News. "But we're focused on getting him healthy first."

Dempster able to work his way out of trouble: Ryan Dempster appreciated manager Lou Piniella's confidence in his ability to work out of trouble in the Cubs' 3-1 win over the Dodgers on Monday night.

"Absolutely," Dempster told the Chicago Tribune. "And part of that is earning that [trust] throughout the beginning part of the season, showing them I'm strong enough to keep going and bounce back. Not just strong enough that game, but how do I bounce back the next game? He knows that I'm going to go out there and continue to be aggressive."

Dempster is now 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in his return to the starting rotation this season. Opponents have batted just .189 against him.

Damon gives Markakis props: Nick Markakis got Johnny Damon's attention when he threw the Yankees' speedster out at the plate in the third inning on Monday night in a game the Orioles eventually won.

"Markakis is some player," Damon told The Baltimore Sun. "He's showed off his arm to us a lot so far this year. [He has] tremendous speed getting to the ball. That was a great throw. I felt pretty good running there, and he got me by a couple steps. You can probably go around the league and put him up against anybody. He makes such quick adjustments. You can make him look bad on a certain pitch, and you throw that pitch again and he'll drill it to left field. He's just a complete player."

Hall lends support as backup catcher: Toby Hall admits that he'd love to be the White Sox's everyday catcher, but he has accepted his role as a backup and hopes to do his best in whatever capacity the team wants to use him behind A.J. Pierzynski.

"When I was playing every day, getting 500 or 600 at-bats, I could run into 12 home runs -- I've always felt that way," Hall told MLB.com. "That's my track record. But my job here is to give A.J. days off. We are a better team when he's rested, and I just try to do the best when I'm in there."

Chamberlain inching closer to his first start: The Yankees hope Joba Chamberlain can throw 50 to 55 pitches in his next relief outing and then, if he reaches that figure, become part of the starting rotation for his next appearance, according to a published report.

"It could be, but we'll see," manager Joe Girardi told Newsday.

Kendall moves to the No. 8 spot: After batting ninth behind the pitcher for most of the season, Jason Kendall has been moved into the more conventional eighth spot for the Brewers. Manager Ned Yost is trying to shake up an offense that ranks 12th in the National League.

"We'll just see what happens," Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "There's not a lot of changes to make with that lineup. Moving guys around doesn't make much sense. It could make the difference of a run or two -- a big run for us here lately. [Batting Kendall ninth] has been successful, but I'm trying this, too."

Howry bringing confidence to the mound: Bob Howry, who has a 1.98 ERA in May, is getting more opportunities in key situations.

"I hope so. For the last couple of weeks I've been throwing good," Howry told the Chicago Tribune. "I've worked on some mechanical stuff, and hopefully that, along with warm weather, will bring good results."

Redding could be bound for All-Star game: Tim Redding has a 6-3 record and a 3.59 ERA for the last-place Nationals, which makes him an All-Star Game candidate on a team with few notable performances so far this season.

"It's a month and a half away, but he has pitched well enough to be considered," manager Manny Acta told The Washington Post. "Take into consideration what he's done for our team and that you have to take a player from each team. I mean, he's pitched tremendously. I don't see -- unless he collapses big time in the next month and a half, or somebody else takes off and goes wild -- I think he's got the lead, performance-wise, on our club."

LaRoche getting time at first base: With Blake DeWitt holding on to the Dodgers' third-base job, Andy LaRoche played first base for the first time at Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday.

"We're going to move him all over the infield with the anticipation that, when he comes up to this level, that if we want to get [starting first baseman James] Loney out of there against a certain left-hander, we can do that," manager Joe Torre told the Los Angeles Times. "It's just more options for us."

Morrow might make move to starting rotation: The Mariners are considering moving former first-round draft pick Brandon Morrow into the starting rotation.

"It's something I'm in favor of," Morrow told The Seattle Times. "But I don't know how far along they are in talking about it."

-- Red Line Editorial