Greece is the word for Rule 5 pick Kontos

Greece is the word for Rule 5 pick Kontos

PEORIA, Ariz. -- George Kontos' accelerated bid to take a seat in the Padres bullpen will continue Tuesday, when he will be one of the pitchers following starter Tim Stauffer to the mound against the A's in Phoenix.

By not pitching him Monday night against the Royals, however, San Diego manager Bud Black missed an opportunity for a seminal cultural tremor that would've reached all the way to Athens. Well ... maybe.

After all, neither Kontos nor Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas are (yet) household names. But they are both Greek, and how often do guys of that nationality square off 60 feet, 6 inches apart?

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Kontos, a 25-year-old right-hander plucked from the Yankees in last December's Rule 5 Draft, is a little steeper in his heritage. As a toddler, he was under the care of his Greek-born grandparents while his mom and dad both worked. And for seven years, he supplemented his public-school education in Chicago by attending Greek school.

"I spoke Greek before I could speak English," Kontos said. "My grandparents babysat me a lot while my parents worked. When I started going to school, after regular school, I went to Greek school twice a week for three hours a day. I thought it was important to learn the culture."

As a Rule 5 pick, of course, Kontos must either be placed on the regular 25-man roster or be offered back to the Yankees. It could be a good situation for a five-year pro hoping for a chance -- he is guaranteed of being watched closely.

"I just have to keep myself ready, and go out there and show them enough to make them think of keeping me," said Kontos, who in two outings has allowed three hits and one run in 2 2/3 innings. "Definitely, coming in I figured I'd get more work than maybe some of the other pitchers. I know they have to make a relatively quick decision, so I figured I'd be under full watch."