Kontos Getting Closer

It takes nearly a year and a half for most pitchers to fully come back from Tommy John surgery. George Kontos still has a few months before hitting that milestone. However, the right-hander says he is getting real close to being his old self on the mound.

"It feels great," George Kontos said before his promotion to Triple-A Scranton. "It feels good to be back out there and being able to compete.

"I was getting very anxious down in Extended [Spring Training], but now that I'm back into it and feeling more normal, it's great to be back. It's a great feeling being able to be healthy and able to compete again."

He posted a 3.38 ERA with the Trenton Thunder in 17 appearances, allowing less hits than innings pitched and striking out 28 batters in 32 innings as a reliever.

While the numbers were more solid than spectacular, the fact that his velocity jumped up from 88-90 mph in 2009 to sitting mostly 91-92 mph this year, and doing so barely a year after his Tommy John surgery, leads many to believe he is getting close to being his old self on the mound.

"It's pretty close," he said of his sutff. "My secondary stuff and my command has been better than it's ever been. The slider is there. I'm commanding it to both sides of the plate. It's got the same bite as it had before [the surgery].

"My fastball, I'm a little bit better than it was last year but I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent yet. I think I still have another tick or two to go.

"I'm just 13 months out of surgery and they say you get your normal stuff back at about 18 months. If that's the case, I'm just hoping for a couple of more ticks and everything should be great."

Now a member of the bullpen, however, he has had to pare down his arsenal to just three pitches on most nights. Shorter outings has meant his curveball has taken a back seat for the most part.

"Yeah, I actually got beat on my curveball [last Friday] night," he admitted. "I'm still working on my curveball and changeup. Not so much curveball as I'm throwing my fastball-slider-changeup. I'm still throwing quite of bit of changeups though.

"I'm working the curveball in if I'm facing a guy twice in the order or something, I'll drop in a first-pitch curveball. That's the pitch that has kind of dropped off the most. I'm still throwing it in bullpens but if I'm in the game and throwing one or two innings, I've got to go with my best stuff all of the time."

Nobody is certain if his new role is a permanent move or not, but Kontos knows two things: he is going to be a reliever in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and that the road to the big leagues with the Yankees is easier via the bullpen.

"It's a new role," Kontos said. "It's fine. I like being able to go out there and pitch more frequently than starting, but I like having the routine of being a starter. I've embraced the bullpen. It's good, it's fun, and it's going well."

His manager in Trenton echoed the same sentiment.

"When I had him before he was a starter and he was really starting to take off as a starter," Trenton manager Tony Franklin said. "He pitched well enough to leave this level and go off to Scranton.

"Arm injuries set you back a little bit but what I'm seeing from George every time he goes out is he's getting better. The velocity is coming back, his slider is still very good, it's his out—pitch. I'm pretty impressed with where he is right now.

"There's never been any question about his ability to work hard, have a direction of where he wanted to go and how he was going to get there. I think he's pretty in-tune to what this is all about."

With his first year back from Tommy John surgery dwindling down, Kontos believes more work in Arizona this offseason is just the kind of tune-up he needs to get even closer to being back to his old self on the mound.

"Absolutely, coming back from surgery so far I think I've performed pretty well," Kontos opined. "I've put up some good numbers and everything has come back well. I'm also going to the Arizona Fall League, which will be another great test.

"It will be a lot of fun going out there and competing against guys that are headed to the big league level so I can see where I'm at. I'm hungry now, but I think I'll be hungrier next year when Spring Training comes."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It feels great,\" George Kontos said before his promotion to Triple-A Scranton. \"It feels good to be back out there and being able to compete.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was getting very anxious down in Extended [Spring Training], but now that I'm back into it and feeling more normal, it's great to be back. It's a great feeling being able to be healthy and able to compete again.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe posted a 3.38 ERA with the Trenton Thunder in 17 appearances, allowing less hits than innings pitched and striking out 28 batters in 32 innings as a reliever.
\r\n
\r\nWhile the numbers were more solid than spectacular, the fact that his velocity jumped up from 88-90 mph in 2009 to sitting mostly 91-92 mph this year, and doing so barely a year after his Tommy John surgery, leads many to believe he is getting close to being his old self on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's pretty close,\" he said of his sutff. \"My secondary stuff and my command has been better than it's ever been. The slider is there. I'm commanding it to both sides of the plate. It's got the same bite as it had before [the surgery].
\r\n
\r\n\"My fastball, I'm a little bit better than it was last year but I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent yet. I think I still have another tick or two to go.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just 13 months out of surgery and they say you get your normal stuff back at about 18 months. If that's the case, I'm just hoping for a couple of more ticks and everything should be great.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow a member of the bullpen, however, he has had to pare down his arsenal to just three pitches on most nights. Shorter outings has meant his curveball has taken a back seat for the most part.
\r\n
\r\n\"Yeah, I actually got beat on my curveball [last Friday] night,\" he admitted. \"I'm still working on my curveball and changeup. Not so much curveball as I'm throwing my fastball-slider-changeup. I'm still throwing quite of bit of changeups though.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm working the curveball in if I'm facing a guy twice in the order or something, I'll drop in a first-pitch curveball. That's the pitch that has kind of dropped off the most. I'm still throwing it in bullpens but if I'm in the game and throwing one or two innings, I've got to go with my best stuff all of the time.\"
\r\n
\r\nNobody is certain if his new role is a permanent move or not, but Kontos knows two things: he is going to be a reliever in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and that the road to the big leagues with the Yankees is easier via the bullpen.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's a new role,\" Kontos said. \"It's fine. I like being able to go out there and pitch more frequently than starting, but I like having the routine of being a starter. I've embraced the bullpen. It's good, it's fun, and it's going well.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis manager in Trenton echoed the same sentiment.
\r\n
\r\n\"When I had him before he was a starter and he was really starting to take off as a starter,\" Trenton manager Tony Franklin said. \"He pitched well enough to leave this level and go off to Scranton.
\r\n
\r\n\"Arm injuries set you back a little bit but what I'm seeing from George every time he goes out is he's getting better. The velocity is coming back, his slider is still very good, it's his out—pitch. I'm pretty impressed with where he is right now.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's never been any question about his ability to work hard, have a direction of where he wanted to go and how he was going to get there. I think he's pretty in-tune to what this is all about.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith his first year back from Tommy John surgery dwindling down, Kontos believes more work in Arizona this offseason is just the kind of tune-up he needs to get even closer to being back to his old self on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"Absolutely, coming back from surgery so far I think I've performed pretty well,\" Kontos opined. \"I've put up some good numbers and everything has come back well. I'm also going to the Arizona Fall League, which will be another great test.
\r\n
\r\n\"It will be a lot of fun going out there and competing against guys that are headed to the big league level so I can see where I'm at. I'm hungry now, but I think I'll be hungrier next year when Spring Training comes.\"
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

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