Kontos Confident He Can Keep Rolling

George Kontos took his game to another level after nearly being dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline last summer, going 4-1 with 2.58 ERA in his last six starts with the Trenton Thunder. Showing up to camp in even better shape this year, he is very confident he can not only duplicate last year's late-season success but possibly even improve on it.

"I think it's gone very well," George Kontos said of his Spring Training. "I came into camp having worked on a few delivery things in the offseason, I came back about ten pounds lighter, and I feel great.

"My arm feels great, my mechanics feel great, and I think the results have definitely shown."

He says he worked out with former Northwestern University teammate and current Philadelphia Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ, and rather than continue to get bigger in the upper-body he decided to slim it down.

"We did a lot of sprint work for conditioning and instead of doing upper-body work I just swam three times a week," he revealed. "So I did my two lower-body lifts and then swam three times a week and it really shed the pounds pretty quickly.

"I came back and I feel great right now, as good as I did in my college years. I feel great and I'm really happy with how things are going so far."

A bonus byproduct of cutting down on the bulk has been a little more looseness in his throwing motion this year and he has noticed a bit more power in his arm in comparison to the same point a year ago.

That's good news for a pitcher who saw his normal 91-95 MPH velocity range dip down to the 89-92 MPH level last season.

"I really think the fact that I've lost that weight and made my arm a lot freer, I think it's going to help big-time," Kontos opined.

"I know there's been a lot of speculation as to why the velocity dropped and I think it was a combination of things; I think I got a little bit too big and bulky and that restricted my arm motion a little bit and I also think from going to Hawaii and not getting much rest between last offseason and coming back to throw 160 innings last year, I think that took a bit of a toll on my body.

"But as of right now I feel great, the ball is coming out of my hand really well, and in every start the velocity is climbing up a little bit so I think I'll be back to where I'm used to pitching at."

Helping matters has been his ability to finally hone his mechanics into a consistent delivery and that has allowed him to throw all four of his pitches from the same angle.

Once prone to opening up his front shoulder just a bit and thus preventing him from throwing all of his pitches downhill, and in some ways limiting his effectiveness on the outside corners, Kontos says that is no longer an issue.

"That was one of the things that really helped and staying closed just keeps my arm angle up for all of my pitches," he added. "I'm throwing all of my pitches at a down angle and that makes me more deceptive.

"My fastball and my slider are both there and my curveball and changeup are great, they're much better than they were even at the end of last year. I feel great and I'm really happy with how things are going."

He ended his 2008 season on such a strong note and he finally became a legitimate four-pitch pitcher by season's end. But as strong as he finished, he believes he can be even better going forward.

"To be honest I feel better right now than I did at the end of last year," he said. "I'm very confident.

"If everything keeps rolling the way it is now, it's just going out there and throwing strikes and getting the hitters out. That's all it is, getting ahead in the count and allowing myself to get to my secondary pitches and making those pitches.

"I think just executing the pitches will take care of itself. I'm very confident going into this year and that's different from how it went last year.

"I've been working on things the last couple of Spring Trainings whereas this year everything was set in place and I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing. The confidence is there so it's just waiting for the season to start and getting ready to get back at it."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I think it's gone very well,\" George Kontos said of his Spring Training. \"I came into camp having worked on a few delivery things in the offseason, I came back about ten pounds lighter, and I feel great.
\r\n
\r\n\"My arm feels great, my mechanics feel great, and I think the results have definitely shown.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe says he worked out with former Northwestern University teammate and current Philadelphia Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ, and rather than continue to get bigger in the upper-body he decided to slim it down.
\r\n
\r\n\"We did a lot of sprint work for conditioning and instead of doing upper-body work I just swam three times a week,\" he revealed. \"So I did my two lower-body lifts and then swam three times a week and it really shed the pounds pretty quickly.
\r\n
\r\n\"I came back and I feel great right now, as good as I did in my college years. I feel great and I'm really happy with how things are going so far.\"
\r\n
\r\nA bonus byproduct of cutting down on the bulk has been a little more looseness in his throwing motion this year and he has noticed a bit more power in his arm in comparison to the same point a year ago.
\r\n
\r\nThat's good news for a pitcher who saw his normal 91-95 MPH velocity range dip down to the 89-92 MPH level last season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I really think the fact that I've lost that weight and made my arm a lot freer, I think it's going to help big-time,\" Kontos opined.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know there's been a lot of speculation as to why the velocity dropped and I think it was a combination of things; I think I got a little bit too big and bulky and that restricted my arm motion a little bit and I also think from going to Hawaii and not getting much rest between last offseason and coming back to throw 160 innings last year, I think that took a bit of a toll on my body.
\r\n
\r\n\"But as of right now I feel great, the ball is coming out of my hand really well, and in every start the velocity is climbing up a little bit so I think I'll be back to where I'm used to pitching at.\"
\r\n
\r\nHelping matters has been his ability to finally hone his mechanics into a consistent delivery and that has allowed him to throw all four of his pitches from the same angle.
\r\n
\r\nOnce prone to opening up his front shoulder just a bit and thus preventing him from throwing all of his pitches downhill, and in some ways limiting his effectiveness on the outside corners, Kontos says that is no longer an issue.
\r\n
\r\n\"That was one of the things that really helped and staying closed just keeps my arm angle up for all of my pitches,\" he added. \"I'm throwing all of my pitches at a down angle and that makes me more deceptive.
\r\n
\r\n\"My fastball and my slider are both there and my curveball and changeup are great, they're much better than they were even at the end of last year. I feel great and I'm really happy with how things are going.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe ended his 2008 season on such a strong note and he finally became a legitimate four-pitch pitcher by season's end. But as strong as he finished, he believes he can be even better going forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"To be honest I feel better right now than I did at the end of last year,\" he said. \"I'm very confident.
\r\n
\r\n\"If everything keeps rolling the way it is now, it's just going out there and throwing strikes and getting the hitters out. That's all it is, getting ahead in the count and allowing myself to get to my secondary pitches and making those pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think just executing the pitches will take care of itself. I'm very confident going into this year and that's different from how it went last year.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been working on things the last couple of Spring Trainings whereas this year everything was set in place and I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing. The confidence is there so it's just waiting for the season to start and getting ready to get back at it.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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