BALTIMORE -- Brandon Dickson went to visit his grandfather in a Montgomery, Ala., hospital on Wednesday. He stayed the allowed 20 minutes, stepped out of the intensive care unit and almost immediately received a phone call.

Afterward, he knew he needed to go back in and see his grandfather again, and thankfully, he was given permission. Dickson hadn't just gotten any call. He'd gotten the call. He was headed to the Major Leagues for the first time.

"It was a sudden thing," said Dickson, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Memphis, and who takes the roster spot of the recently released Ryan Franklin.

Dickson was pleased to report on Thursday that his grandfather is doing quite well, and the news of his callup certainly didn't hurt.

"He can't stand to miss a game," Dickson said. "I think he was probably more happy than anybody."

Dickson, a ground-balling right-hander, impressed the Cardinals in Spring Training as a non-roster invitee this year. He got off to a bit of a slow start at Memphis but has come on well in recent weeks.

His arrival provides an extra long reliever, and it also allows St. Louis to use Lance Lynn in a different role from the one he was called up to serve. Lynn, brought in as a long man, can now pitch later in games and in shorter bursts.

Cardinals use Cruz at first base vs. left-hander

BALTIMORE -- In his brief time in the Major Leagues, rookie catcher Tony Cruz has already leaned on Yadier Molina for plenty of help, learning all he can from the two-time All-Star starter.

On Thursday, though, he got a different kind of help from Molina. Cruz arrived at Camden Yards to find out that he would be making his first Major League start at first base, so he had to borrow Molina's first baseman's mitt.

With the Cardinals facing left-hander Brian Matusz and with the club playing with a short bench, manager Tony La Russa wanted the right-handed-hitting Cruz in the lineup. So Lance Berkman became the designated hitter, Mark Hamilton returned to the bench and Cruz got the start at first.

Cruz contributed offensively right off the bat, getting the Cardinals on the board with an RBI single off Matusz in the second inning.

Cruz last appeared at first base in a regular-season game in 2009, with Double-A Springfield, but he played there during his stint in the Arizona Fall League last year. He was drafted as an infielder and has played first and third as well as catcher in his pro career.

"It's a little different off the bat," Cruz said of playing first. "It's a little different, but if it's a ground ball, just try to field it."

Baby birds

• Triple-A Memphis was off on Wednesday.

• Matt Adams homered, but the North division all-stars lost to the South, 3-2, in the Texas League all-star game.

• Alan Ahmady had a big game for Class A Palm Beach in a 12-9 loss to Bradenton. Ahmady homered and doubled in his four times reaching base.

• Anthony Ferrara pitched six solid innings in Class A Quad Cities' 7-1 loss to Cedar Rapids. Ferrara allowed two runs on two hits, striking out six and walking four.

• David Medina and Juan Castillo both homered, helping short-season Batavia beat Jamestown, 12-8.

• Ryan Sherriff was the hard-luck loser for rookie-level Johnson City, which was beaten by Elizabethton, 4-3. Making his first professional start, Sherriff allowed two runs on four hits and no walks in six innings. He struck out four.

• The Gulf Coast League Cardinals were rained out on Wednesday.

Ahmady is the player of the day. The third-year pro went 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs and three RBIs. He had a rough go at Springfield earlier this year, but he's hit well at Palm Beach, batting .315 with a .449 on-base percentage and .434 slugging percentage in 42 games. The 23-year-old was an 11th-round pick in the 2009 Draft.

Worth noting

• David Freese made three starts in as many games since returning from the disabled list, manning third base on Thursday. Manager Tony La Russa said that Freese will likely receive one day off over the weekend against the Rays.

• The tightness in Mitchell Boggs' lower back has dissipated, and the reliever was considered fully available for Thursday night's game.

• Outfielder Andrew Brown was named a Triple-A all-star. He was the only member of the Memphis team selected to the game, which takes place on July 13.