Yankees trade George Kontos for Chris Stewart; Cervelli to AAA

So much for George Kontos stealing a bullpen spot. Multiple sources report that the Yankees have traded him to the Giants for catcher Chris Stewart. You might remember Stewart from 2008, when the Yankees ran through a half dozen catchers. He also spent time with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2009. He will start the season as the Yankees’ backup catcher, as Francisco Cervelli will start the season at AAA.

Color me confused on this one. Stewart has a career .328 OBP in the minors, and .273 in the majors. How he’s an upgrade over Cervelli in any way is beyond me. If this was made to cover the catcher position at AAA since Austin Romine will start the season on the DL, well, it still doesn’t seem to make much sense. Kontos seems like a useful piece. Couldn’t the Yankees have found a .273 OBP catcher who cost a bit less?

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Phelps, Mitchell, Laird, and Kontos all optioned to Triple-A

Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees have officially optioned RHP David Phelps, RHP D.J. Mitchell, 1B/3B/LF Brandon Laird, and RHP George Kontos to Triple-A. All four can still appear in Spring Training games — Phelps will start Thursday’s game against the Red Sox — but they’ve been sent down to start the season. It’s just a procedural move, but it does make the final bullpen spot picture a little clearer. Here’s the first round of roster cuts from last week in case you missed them.

Injury Updates: Nunez, D-Rob, Kontos, Burawa

Look alive, David. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

The Yankees and Joe Girardi provided some injury updates following last night’s loss to the Red Sox, so here’s a recap of the news courtesy of Jack Curry and Chad Jennings

  • Eduardo Nunez will take three full days off as he tries to come back from a right hand contusion courtesy of a hit-by-pitch last Monday. He was originally supposed to start at shortstop last night, but he felt some pain in the hand during batting practice and was scratched as a precaution. The longer he’s out, the more important Bill Hall and Jayson Nix become.
  • David Robertson spend some time on a elliptical machine yesterday and could run on a treadmill today. He hasn’t felt any pain in his right foot since shedding his walking boot on Monday. If all goes well these next few days, Robertson could be back on a mound as soon as this weekend after missing a few days with a bone bruise.
  • George Kontos came through yesterday’s live batting practice session a-okay. It was his first time facing hitters since tweaking his oblique earlier in camp. He’ll officially re-enter the competition for the final bullpen spot when he makes his exhibition game debut on Friday.
  • Dan Burawa‘s torn oblique is going to shelve him for quite some time, as you probably expect. “It could be a while,” said Girardi last night. “I’m not sure … I haven’t gotten a timetable.” Burawa wasn’t a candidate for that last bullpen spot, but he was slated for Double-A Trenton and this injury sounds like it’s going to extend into the regular season.

Prospect Profile: George Kontos

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

George Kontos | RHP

Background
A Chicago-area kid from Lincolnwood, Illinois, Kontos was a three-sport star at Niles West High School. He played varsity baseball and golf for three years, and also lettered in basketball. Kontos pitched to a 1.02 ERA and hit .480 as a senior, earning him Central Suburban Player of the Year, Team MVP, and First-Team Illinois Coaches Association honors. He was also named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state. Despite his success, Kontos was not considered much of a pro prospect at the time, so he went undrafted out of high school in 2003 and followed through on his commitment to Northwestern.

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Golson, Noesi, Pena and Kontos heading to New York

The Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees finished up their season with a win today, and Donnie Collins reports that the quartet of Greg Golson, Hector Noesi, Ramiro Pena and George Kontos are heading to New York to join the big league team. We’ve seen Golson, Pena and Noesi before, but Kontos will be the new face. The righty reliever struck out 91 and unintentionally walked just 25 in 89.1 IP this year, his first full season in the bullpen following Tommy John surgery. Kontos would have been Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, and the Yankees will have to make room for him on the 40-man roster.