Culberson gets first start of season at second
MIAMI -- Charlie Culberson was at second base Thursday afternoon for his first start of the season. But to earn that opportunity, he had to prove during Spring Training that he could play shortstop.
Culberson played second and the outfield last season. But by playing all the infield positions -- including short -- he was able to beat out Josh Rutledge and Paul Janish for what turned out to be the only backup infield job on this year's roster.
Culberson, who turns 25 on April 10, was a shortstop when the Giants made him a supplemental first-round pick out of Calhoun (Ga.) High school in 2007. He became a second baseman as he rose in the system. His best opportunity to break in was as a utility man, and playing shortstop enhances that. Glenallen Hill, his manager at Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, put him at short, in addition to giving him a few games in the outfield, to prepare him for any position in the Majors.
This spring, when manager Walt Weiss put him there, it turned out to be his best position.
"Last year, I played there for two months, and since I'm a little older, a little more mature and I know myself better, the transition to short was a lot easier for me," Culberson said. "It took me a couple of games to get used to it. The more I play it, I feel really good at second base but better at short. That's nice for me because it makes me more valuable to the team."
Culberson is happy he emerged from a competition that was tight until the end of camp.
"That's a good thing for the organization to have everyone doing well," he said. "All the guys had a great spring and definitely could've been on the team. I'm very happy I made the team, but I'm sure the Rockies really like seeing everyone do well and if something happens, other guys are there to do everything I do, too. It makes you step up to play and nothing's given to you."
Corey Dickerson, after an outstanding Spring Training, made his first start in center field and at the leadoff spot. Before Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon started twice and Drew Stubbs started once. Also, Michael Cuddyer moved from right field to first base, and Brandon Barnes took his first start, in right field.
"I feel good about the guys we were able to plug in," Weiss said. "I feel like there's no dropoff."