PHI@SF: Zito helps his own cause with an RBI single

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy seized on Barry Zito's improvement as a hitter to reiterate his opposition to incorporating designated hitters within the National League.

Virtually helpless with a bat upon joining the Giants in 2007 after seven seasons performing alongside a DH in Oakland, Zito owns a gaudy .333 batting average (4-for-12) and a team-high five sacrifice bunts this season.

"It's not pretty, but he battles," Bochy said on Thursday, noting with amusement that Zito asks for inside information about opposing pitchers, just as position players do. "We laugh about it, but he competes."

Bochy has reveled in the NL's traditional approach of having pitchers hit. He doesn't want that to change, despite the persistent cries for both leagues to perform under the same rules. It has been widely speculated that any adjustment would involve the NL adopting the DH.

"I would be disappointed. I've heard that, too," Bochy said. "I just love the pitcher hitting. I think it's a beautiful game, with the strategy and giving the pitcher a chance to help himself, like Zito did. ... I'd be totally against [the NL adding a DH]."

Casilla out with cyst in right knee

PHI@SF: Casilla leaves game with right-knee injury

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Santiago Casilla likely will be sidelined for a couple of days to cope with the discomfort caused by a cyst in his right knee, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday.

Bochy acknowledged that the Giants have known about the cyst since last year. Yet, Bochy couldn't recall an instance when Casilla ached enough to ask for a day off. In fact, he led the staff with 73 appearances in 2012.

Nor, said Bochy, was offseason surgery considered to remove the cyst.

"But," Bochy said, "it bothered him yesterday."

On Wednesday, Casilla faced two Philadelphia batters in the eighth inning and probably would have stuck around to finish the inning. But the pain forced him to leave the game.

Bochy observed that Casilla would be in worse shape if his left leg -- the one he lands on as he releases a pitch -- were affected instead. Casilla might adjust to the discomfort by wearing a brace, Bochy suggested.

George Kontos and Chad Gaudin, the other right-handed relievers besides closer Sergio Romo, probably will play more prominent roles in Bochy's bullpen plans while Casilla rests.

Braves outfield reminiscent of early '70s Giants

WSH@ATL: B.J. Upton leaps at the wall for a nice grab

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are getting their first look at the Atlanta Braves' talented outfield. Most of it, at least, since right fielder Jason Heyward is recovering from an appendectomy.

Heyward, left fielder Justin Upton and center fielder B.J. Upton are all billed as five-tool players. It's nothing the Giants haven't seen before, though decades have passed since they possessed an outfield of this ilk.

Fans of a certain age will agree that the threesome of left fielder Gary Matthews, center fielder Garry Maddox and right fielder Bobby Bonds demonstrated multiple skills. They played together for only two full seasons, 1973-74, but their prodigious talent was unforgettable.

Matthews, who was in town earlier this week as part of the Philadelphia Phillies' broadcasting crew, confessed that he hadn't seen the Braves play enough to determine whether their outfield was as impressive as the bygone Giants group. But he conceded nothing when it came to one of the five tools: speed.

"I know that none of them can run as fast as Bonds," Matthews said. "Because Bonds ran a nine-something 100 [yard dash]. So they couldn't beat Bobby in any kind of a race. Maybe Garry or myself. But Bobby was more of a sprinter when he was playing."

'Mystery baseballs' fundraiser returns Friday

SAN FRANCISCO -- "Mystery baseballs," a popular item during Spring Training, will return Friday as the Giants Community Fund and the Giants Wives combine to stage a fundraiser for people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer-plant fire and explosion in West Texas.

Approximately 300 baseballs, each autographed by one player or coach on the current roster or a Giants alumnus, will be on sale at the Giants Community Clubhouse for $80 apiece. The clubhouse is located on the ballpark's Promenade Level behind home plate.

An online auction also will be held at www.jrgiants.org (click on "AUCTION" to participate).

Proceeds will be shared between One Fund Boston and POINTWEST Bank Fund.