Charlie Culberson’s Braves’ tenure was very close to ending in a gruesome and unfortunate way. The fan-favorite took a foul ball to the eye near the end of last year, fracturing his face and costing him the rest of the season before entering free agency.
Despite receiving interest from other teams, however, Culberson decided to roll the dice and accept a one-year minor league offer with a Spring Training invite from the Braves. He bet on himself to make the 26-man roster, but his performance in Spring Training 1.0 didn’t give him much of a chance, going a measly 3 for 26. With so much talent available to Atlanta, it was unlikely he began the year on the Opening Day roster.
That is no longer the case nearly four months later. The coronavirus pandemic has opened up some opportunities for Culberson, with Nick Markakis and Felix Hernandez deciding to opt-out — two players who likely would have begun the year on the Opening Day roster. Charlie Clutch has also come back to action with a lot more swagger.
It’s a small sample size, but Culberson has raked in the first two controlled scrimmages of Spring Training 2.0, including a two-run homer off of Grant Dayton yesterday. With 30-man rosters to begin the season, I don’t see why he would not start the year on the Opening Day roster unless something drastic happens over the next two weeks. And would it surprise anyone if Charlie Clutch became an unsung hero in a shortened season where every game will have a playoff feel to it?