SAN FRANCISCO -- A short stint in the Major Leagues can go a long way toward furthering a player's career. Ask George Kontos.
Kontos believed that he would make the New York Yankees' Opening Day roster this year. That notion crumbled on April 4 when the Giants acquired the right-hander for catcher Chris Stewart. Undaunted, Kontos reported to the Giants' Triple-A Fresno club and posted a 2-0 record with a 1.71 ERA in 23 relief appearances.
Kontos allowed just one earned run in his last 20 innings for Fresno. Recalled Saturday after reliever Steve Edlefsen was sent to Fresno, Kontos made his Giants debut Sunday and pitched a scoreless eighth inning in San Francisco's 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Kontos' attitude was buoyed by his seven-game stint with the Yankees toward the end of last season. His statistics were adequate -- a 3.00 ERA and six strikeouts in six innings. But the experience was invaluable.
"The biggest thing for me was confidence," said Kontos, who turns 27 on Tuesday. "I got called up to New York last year, I pitched well and I think that confidence carried throughout the offseason into Spring Training and into the season."
Kontos' duties were divided between starting and relieving throughout six Minor League seasons. But even in the former role, he pitched more like a reliever. "My mentality as a starter has always kind of been to attack hitters," he said. "So the transition to the bullpen was actually fairly simple."
Kontos made a rapid recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery in July 2009, returning to the mound in approximately 10 months. "I feel better now than when I was 21, 22 years old," said Kontos.