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?
2010 Spring Training - San Diego Padres
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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."
Spring night games present challenges, says Black
PEORIA, Ariz. -- San Diego manager Bud Black was ambivalent about the Padres' first of five night exhibitions Monday.On the one hand, Black conceded that the departure from a predominantly all-day schedule is a good way "to mix it up" and stray from the routine. On the other, Black said a temporary break in that routine is challenging -- especially since the Padres will bounce right back into their normal in-the-clubhouse-by-daybreak agenda prior to Tuesday afternoon's game against the A's in Phoenix. Night games, of course, better reflect prevalent regular-season playing conditions. In view of that, some are lobbying to have night exhibitions concentrated in the latter stages of the Cactus League schedule, "to get you acclimated," Black said. As has become his habit, Black awoke at 6:45 Monday morning. "I thought, 'Hey, I get to sleep more today.' So I went back to sleep until 6:46."
San Diego's lineup Monday had two notable entries: Cameron Maybin was back in center field after missing five games with concussion symptoms following a practice-field mishap, and Rob Johnson (sore side) made his first start of the spring as the DH. Maybin went 0-for-2 before leaving after five innings and will be back in the lineup on both Tuesday and Wednesday since "it will take him awhile to get back in the groove, but he'll get his playing time," said manager Bud Black. ... Clayton Richard (shoulder) again threw batting practice Monday, and Black said his concern about the left-hander was "less than it was a week ago. He has passed a lot of tests." ... Close eyes continue to be kept on lefty Joe Thatcher (sore shoulder), who "is close to starting to play some catch," Black said.