SAN FRANCISCO -- Bryan Stow, the Giants fan brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium earlier this season, received a surprise visit in the hospital from Jeremy Affeldt on Tuesday.

According to an Associated Press report, the reliever went to see Stow at San Francisco General Hospital, introduced himself, held his hand and prayed with his family that the 42-year-old Stow recovers quickly. Affeldt also gave Stow a team banner from the Giants and brought team apparel for the other members of his family.

Affeldt told the AP that Stow, currently in critical but stable condition, opened his eyes and seemed responsive. Stow is still heavily sedated in order to prevent brain seizures caused by the injury he suffered in the attack on March 31, but he was moved from Los Angeles back to Northern California last week to be closer to his family.

This wasn't Affeldt's first involvement with the situation, as he previously joined Dodgers second baseman Jamey Carroll in addressing fans of both teams, telling them that crowd violence shouldn't be a part of the rivalry between the two clubs.

Zito upbeat after simulated game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Zito is still adjusting to the unfamiliar life on the disabled list, but he made another step in the right direction Tuesday afternoon.

On the 15-day DL since April 17 with a right mid-foot sprain, Zito threw his first simulated game before the Giants' series opener against the Marlins, facing hitters for the first time since the injury. Including a bullpen session before the simulated start, Zito threw more than 100 pitches.

"I felt great. I've been working my [tail] off, so it was a good first step on the mound against hitters, and I'm excited to get out there again," Zito said. "It's a good time to get strong. You can do so much more physically because you're not out there. So I'm taking advantage of that. The trainers have been outstanding handling everything."

Zito threw to catcher Eli Whiteside and utility man Emmanuel Burriss, totaling about 50 pitches over three innings of the simulated game. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Zito should be encouraged with how he threw all of his pitches and especially with the fact that his velocity appeared better than it was even before the injury.

The left-hander, earning $18.5 million this season in the fifth year of a seven-year deal that guarantees him $126 million, has never been on the disabled list and said the process was "weird" to him, admitting he didn't know how well he was sticking to his schedule because he's never experienced this before.

The next step, Bochy said, will be an extending spring training stint in Arizona, where he can continue to work out, face hitters and build up his stamina while not having to travel with the team. Bochy estimated it will take a few weeks before Zito's endurance is at the right level, and he wants to see the lefty throw 100 pitches a couple of times before bringing him back.

After Zito works his way through a rehab assignment, the Giants will face the difficult decision of what to do with Zito, as their staff has excelled this season -- particularly Ryan Vogelsong (3-0, 1.93 ERA), who assumed Zito's spot in the rotation.

Ford available despite sprained ankle

SAN FRANCISCO -- Darren Ford played the role of unlikely hero when he scored the game-winning run in Sunday's 5-4, 11-inning win over the A's, and he's still feeling the effects -- physically, at least.

Ford sprained his ankle on the slide into home plate and is listed as day to day, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday. However, Bochy added, the speedy outfielder, nicknamed "The Bullet," could still be used.

"It swelled some, but it's not a situation where we don't think he's going to be ready real soon, I'll put it that way," Bochy said. "We'd like to stay away from him, but knowing him, once batting practice is over, he could go in the training room and tell me, 'Hey, if you need me, I'm ready.'"

Given Ford's role in Sunday's dramatic win -- the Giants' seventh walk-off of the season -- Bochy also discussed how much of an asset Ford has been since returning to the Majors from Triple-A Fresno. Ford appeared to be a candidate to get sent down again when third baseman Mark DeRosa and center fielder Andres Torres came off the disabled list two weeks ago. But his speed on the basepaths -- which Bochy said is unmatched by anyone he's ever seen, save perhaps Deion Sanders -- made him stand out, and the decision has paid off for Ford and the Giants.

Bochy added that Ford's ability impacts the game in a number of different ways. The threat of him stealing a base can distract the opposing pitcher, as it may have Sunday with Oakland lefty Brian Fuentes, and it could force the catcher to hurry his motions and drop the ball.

"We play in a lot of tight games, and speed could come into play, might need somebody to steal a base and score on a base hit, things like that. That's why he stayed with the club, to help us win some of these tight ballgames," Bochy said. "It's nice to have a weapon like that to call on and pinch-run and steal a base. What's impressive is everybody knows he's going, and he doesn't care. He's going to run at some point, and if they pitch out, they're going to guess right. He's not going to back off."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Pablo Sandoval (fractured hamate bone) has continued his recovery by taking light swings with a real bat, and manager Bruce Bochy said he could progress to hitting off a tee soon, potentially even later Tuesday.

• Bochy joked before the game that he had to scratch Darren Ford from the lineup in Barry Zito's simulated game due to his sprained ankle. When asked if he considered taking Ford's spot himself, Bochy smiled and replied that he did not. The reason? Bochy threw out his back for six weeks when he took some swings as a Minor League manager. "Been there, done that," he said. "Six weeks I laid in bed."

• Bochy was impressed by utility man Emmanuel Burriss' work in left field toward the end of Sunday's 5-4 win over the A's. Burriss entered the game after Pat Burrell got on base and stayed in, eventually driving in Ford for the walk-off win. The only problem: Burriss didn't have an outfielder's glove, so he had to borrow one from Nate Schierholtz.

• The Giants have joined forces with the Red Sox in an attempt to get as many of their players as possible in the 2011 All-Star Game. Both clubs are encouraging their fans to cast votes for all San Francisco and Boston players listed on this year's ballot. Fans can vote online at sfgiants.com or redsox.com.