Sean Casey's vision improved significantly on Friday, a day after the Cincinnati Reds first baseman was hit in the right eye by a thrown ball.

Numerous Reds officials and players visited Casey at Good Samaritan Hospital and found him upbeat and much better."His vision is improving. He can actually see," said Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the Reds' medical director. "That's a very encouraging sign. He feels great today. There's no question we're not out of the woods yet."

Casey broke the bone below his right eye, sustained two cuts that required a total of 20 stitches and had blood in the front of the eyeball after he was hit Thursday evening during batting practice.

Reds officials feared he has suffered a career-threatening injury.

"The first time I saw him I thought, `This is too bad. He's 23, getting a chance and he has this devastating injury,' " Kremchek said.

They were relieved on Friday when Casey's vision began returning quicker than doctors expected. The swelling around the eye had subsided and he was able to see things with the eye.

Doctors will have a better idea in four or five days whether the vision in the injured eye returns perfectly. For now, they're encouraged.

"His doctors were amazed that his vision had come back so quickly in 24 hours because they really thought it would be three to four days before they could see any improvement," general manager Jim Bowden said.

Meanwhile, teammate Jeff Shaw agreed to a three-year contract extension with Cincinnati Friday that will pay the Reds closer $2.8 million annually.