Charlie Culberson's call-up makes GreenJackets proud

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Steady rain prevented any baseball at Lake Olmstead Stadium on Sunday afternoon, but the Augusta Green­Jackets still had reason to smile.

Charlie Culberson makes a play as an Augusta GreenJacket in 2009. The Georgia native was called up to the major leagues this month and got his first hit with San Francisco.  Augusta Chronicle file
Augusta Chronicle file
Charlie Culberson makes a play as an Augusta GreenJacket in 2009. The Georgia native was called up to the major leagues this month and got his first hit with San Francisco.

One of their own made it to the big league club.

Charlie Culberson, who played in Augusta for the entire 2008 and 2009 seasons, was called up by the San Francisco Giants in time to start Sunday’s San Francisco Giants game in Arizona. Culberson’s parents, sibling and pregnant wife made a last-minute Mother’s Day trip from Atlanta to see his Major League debut.

In Augusta, manager Lipso Nava and Giants coordinator of minor league instruction Shane Turner shared in their pride. Both had a hand in Culberson’s journey.

“It feels nice knowing that at some point I contributed to his career,” Nava said.

Culberson started in Augusta as a shortstop and was one of the team’s leaders at the plate but struggled defensively. After committing 35 errors – second worst in the league – as a middle infielder, the Giants sent him back to Augusta in 2009 as a third baseman, where he tallied 40 errors.

The Rome, Ga., native was moved up to the Advanced-A level in 2010 and was once again moved around the infield to second base, where he fit in much more comfortably. He played 128 games for the San Jose Giants and committed just 15 errors. He improved again at the Double-A level in 2011 with 13 errors in 136 games at second base.

Culberson was hitting. 284 with six errors in 36 games at Triple-A Fresno when he got the call to the Giants. He went 1 for 4 with a single in his first big league game.

PITCHING SHIFT: The GreenJackets shook up their six-man starting rotation over the weekend, pulling out right-hander Paul Davis and temporarily plugging in Kevin Couture. Davis, who started the season as a reliever, will return to the bullpen, Nava said.

“Davis has done a terrific job, but he’s a go-to guy when he’s in the bullpen,” Nava said. “So we’re going to use him there.”

Lefty Edwin Escobar (2-1, 2.22) is scheduled to start tonight, and right-hander Clayton Blackburn (0-2, 5.40) will wrap up the series with Rome on Wednesday.

LOOKING UP: The Braves arrived in Augusta on Monday looking to dig out of a downward spiral. The team had lost 12 consecutive games, topping its eight-game losing streak last month.

Rome entered the week 18 games out of first and fully entrenched in the cellar of the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division.

The GreenJackets will play Rome six times in a 10-day span starting with Monday’s game. The two teams will also play six games in a row with back-to-back three-game series in Rome then Augusta next month.

TOE TROUBLE: Center fielder Elliott Blair returned to action Saturday after missing time with an injured toe. The 24-year-old Texan ran into the center field wall April 29, knocking him out of game and onto the bench for two weeks. Blair went 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base in his first game back.

WEATHER WAIT: Augusta’s fourth rainout of the season came Sunday. The team announced that the game with the Greenville Drive will be made up as part of a doubleheader June 14, with Game 1 starting at 5:05 p.m.

The GreenJackets and Drive were scheduled to wrap up the first half of the season with a four-game series starting June 14.


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