George Kontos

Cleveland signs former Giants reliever

Cleveland signs former Giants reliever

After six and a half seasons in the National League, reliever George Kontos is headed back to the American League.

Released by the Pirates on May 28, Kontos signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. Kontos will report to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.

In 21 games with Pittsburgh this season, Kontos posted a 5.03 ERA and struck out just nine batters in 19.2 innings. The Pirates designated Kontos for assignment on May 25.

The 32-year-old Kontos joined the Giants in 2012 through a trade with the Yankees. He was a reliable member of the bullpen until he was waived in August of 2017.

In first shot at former team, George Kontos plunked a longtime friend


In first shot at former team, George Kontos plunked a longtime friend

PITTSBURGH — George Kontos still speaks regularly to many of the Giants who became close friends during his six seasons in San Francisco, and after his Pirates won the opener of this series, the right-hander stopped by the visiting team’s hotel to catch up. One of the first people he saw was Brandon Crawford. 

A couple hours earlier, Crawford took Kontos’ second pitch off his front foot, turned and sent a joking glare back at the mound, and then jogged to first. It wasn’t exactly how Kontos drew it up when he thought about facing his former team. 

“I was like, ‘You really couldn’t have just gotten out of the way so we could have had an actual at-bat against each other?’” Kontos said a day later. “He goes, ‘I did move a foot. I just moved the wrong one.’”

Crawford joked that he should have rushed the mound. He also suggested a different pitch choice. 

“Throw a fastball, you have a six-run lead,” he said, laughing. “Don’t throw cutter-cutter.”

Kontos pitched the eighth inning of Pittsburgh’s 11-2 win in the opener. After hitting Crawford, he got a ground ball to first that Josh Bell threw away. Kontos struck out Austin Jackson and Nick Hundley before Gregor Blanco’s single loaded the bases for Andrew McCutchen, the story of the night. McCutchen grounded out to third. 

“There was a lot of adrenaline. My heart was pumping fast,” Kontos said. “I’ve made a lot of major league appearances but that was my first one against the Giants and against the guys that I’ve seen hit thousands of times and gone through a lot of stuff with throughout the years. It was definitely a lot of fun. It was exciting. 

“I wish the second pitch didn’t hit Crawford and it could have gone a little different. But it was fun, it was a lot of fun. To get Cutch with the bases loaded, a guy I was teammates with and we have some history in the past, it was definitely an eventful inning but it ended up being alright.” 

Kontos was sent to the Pirates last August after they claimed him to keep him away from the rival Cubs. He has thrived, finding a home in the eighth, between hard-throwers Michael Feliz and Felipe Vasquez. After years of being Bruce Bochy’s fireman in the middle innings, he has been a fixture late in games for a surprising Pirates team. All 18 of his appearances have come in the eighth inning or later, and he has five holds and a save for a club making noise in the NL Central. 

If the Pirates have another late lead in this series, there's a good chance Kontos will once again be called upon. It's something he's looking forward to, but Crawford said he doesn't necessarily feel the same way. He doesn't like facing Gerrit Cole, his brother in law, either. 

"I personally don't like facing guys I know that well," he said. "It's a little bit weird at first."

On 'most difficult day' of career, Kontos reflects on time with Giants

On 'most difficult day' of career, Kontos reflects on time with Giants

After six years with the Giants, George Kontos is on his way to the Pirates.

Pittsburgh was awarded Kontos after claiming him on revocable waivers Saturday. The Giants chose to let the Pirates have Kontos.

About an hour before the Giants were set to take on the D'backs without the reliever, Kontos posted a photo of himself from the 2014 World Series parade with a long message:

"Today is the most difficult day I've had in my professional career. The past 6 years of my life as a member of the San Francisco Giants and citizen of the community of San Francisco have been nothing short of a dream come true. It has been a privilege to play in front of some of the best fans in the game and contributing to bring 2 World Championships to the city. I want to thank the fans, the front office, the coaching and training staff and my teammates for making my time in THE BAY the best years of my life. The Bay will always be home to me wherever this game takes me; but most importantly, my heart will always bleed BLACK and ORANGE. #70"

During his time with the Giants, Kontos made exactly 300 relief appearances and posted a 3.05 ERA. In four of the six seasons, the 32-year-old registed an ERA under 3.00.