Nationals sign veteran reliever Kontos to minor league deal

In their neverending quest to improve the majors’ worst bullpen, the Nationals have acquired another veteran with considerable experience.

The Nationals signed right-hander George Kontos on Saturday to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Fresno’s roster, where he’ll attempt to earn his way into Washington’s bullpen.

George-Kontos-INDIANS-Sidebar.jpgKontos, 33, owns a career 3.10 ERA and 1.154 WHIP in 350 big league games, the vast majority of those with the Giants. He bounced around three organizations last season, finishing with a 4.39 ERA in 28 games with the Pirates, Indians and Yankees.

After signing a minor league contract with the Cubs over the winter, Kontos appeared in seven spring training games, allowing five runs and eight hits in seven innings. He didn’t make the club’s opening day roster and was released April 14.

Kontos resurfaced two weeks ago with the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, where he allowed just one run in nine relief innings. The Nationals scouted him and signed him to a minor league deal this weekend.

A Chicago-area native who pitched in college for Northwestern, Kontos made his MLB debut for the Yankees in 2011 but was traded to the Giants in 2012. He would spend nearly six seasons in San Francisco’s bullpen and made nine postseason appearances, including one in the 2012 World Series.

Kontos becomes the latest veteran reliever signed by the Nationals in-season in an ongoing quest to shore up a bullpen that has been the club’s biggest Achilles heel. The Nats already signed and released left-hander Dan Jennings, and last week they acquired righty Javy Guerra off waivers from the Blue Jays.

The Nationals promoted right-hander James Bourque from Double-A Harrisburg before Saturday’s game. Once he makes his MLB debut, Bourque will become the 17th different pitcher to make a relief appearance for the Nats this season.

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