WSH@ARI: Frandsen makes a sliding basket catch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevin Frandsen's versatility as a Washington Nationals utility man has taken on a new dimension, for which he can thank the Giants.

Frandsen, who began his professional career with six years in the Giants organization, has received the bulk of his playing time this year in left field -- a position he initially played during his 2007 stint with San Francisco. That year, Frandsen appeared in 10 games in left field, starting three.

So when a reporter asked him earlier this season about the pressure of filling in for injured Nats star Bryce Harper, Frandsen didn't even blink.

"I backed up Barry Bonds," Frandsen recalled Tuesday. "This is nothing."

This year, the 32-year-old Frandsen has started 11 games in left field, six at third base, three at second base and two at first base. He and others have helped prevent Washington from imploding when injuries forced position players such as Harper, catcher Wilson Ramos, first baseman Adam LaRoche and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to the disabled list. Ramos, LaRoche and Zimmerman have returned, helping Washington climb into a first-place tie with Atlanta in the National League East as Tuesday began.

"I feel like the way we're playing now is the direct result of us keeping our heads above water when guys were hurt," said Frandsen, who took a .234 batting average through 48 games into Tuesday.

Casilla could return to Giants for White Sox series

MIA@SF: Casilla induces fly out, escapes jam

SAN FRANCISCO -- Having recovered rapidly from his strained right hamstring, Giants right-hander Santiago Casilla might rejoin the team as early as next Tuesday, when San Francisco opens a two-game road series against the Chicago White Sox, manager Bruce Bochy said.

The date of Casilla's return will be determined by his physical resilience after a pair of injury rehabilitation outings with the Giants' Class A Advanced San Jose affiliate. Bochy said Tuesday that Casilla, San Francisco's top setup reliever until he was injured May 21, will pitch one inning Thursday and two innings Saturday, both against Stockton. Casilla wil be re-evaluated after the latter outing to determine whether he's ready for big league action.

Casilla, who tested himself Tuesday by performing pitchers' fielding practice drills, admitted that thoughts of his hamstring flickered around the periphery of his brain as he ran to cover first base. But mostly, he expressed utmost confidence.

"Very good," Casilla repeated, referring to how he felt after the PFP session. "I'm ready to go right now."

Speaking to reporters before Bochy's pregame media session, Casilla acknowledged that the Giants likely would send him on a rehab stint.

"If they ask me to do it, I'll do it," he said.

Casilla, 33, owns a 1-1 record and a 1.37 ERA in 22 appearances this season.

When Casilla returns, the Giants again must wrestle with the issue of whether to keep a 13-man pitching staff and drop a bench player, or send down a pitcher to maintain the team's current roster balance.

Bochy gets Belt update direct from source

SF@LAD: Belt takes pitch to hand, leaves game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Are you curious about Brandon Belt's recovery from his broken left thumb?

If you answered yes, you have something in common with manager Bruce Bochy.

Belt took ground balls for the second consecutive day Tuesday. He can't throw yet, but he's started to do some one-arm swings.

So, Bruce, when do you think he can start throwing?

Good question.

"Uh, Brandon," Bochy said Tuesday, leaning to his right in the direction of Belt, who was hanging out in the corner of the dugout, "how long before you start throwing?"

Laughter (and an answer) ensued.

"Probably sometime toward the end of next week," Belt said. "That's a guess. Kind of an educated guess."

Belt was hitting .264 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in 35 games before a pitch broke his left thumb May 9 against the Dodgers. Belt had four stabilizing pins inserted the following week. Those pins were removed late last week.

Bochy said Monday that Belt was likely two to three weeks away from returning.