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.
New additions giving Giants newfound speed
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy has a new toy in his lineup this season -- speed.
Heading into Sunday's game against the Rangers, the Giants had a Major League-best 23 triples, one shy of last year's total of 24. The club has combined for 45 stolen bases, good for sixth in the Majors and third in the National League.
Offseason additions of Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera have paid off on the basepaths for the Giants, who have historically lacked team speed. Last season, the team ranked 24th in the Majors with 85 stolen bases.
"It's a lot of fun," Bochy said. "It's nice to have that dimension. We didn't have that last year. We talked about how having speed makes our offense more consistent, and it has been."
The Giants have speed beyond the first two hitters in the lineup, as No. 3 hitter Cabrera leads the league with seven triples and has 10 stolen bases, while No. 5 hitter Pagan is leading the team with 12 stolen bases.
"It hasn't just been one guy, but really throughout the lineup," Bochy said. "We've added more speed and it's made us better."