If you ask Charlie Culberson, he’s already gotten the chance to live out his dreams of playing baseball in the Major Leagues and playing in a World Series. That dream just seems to keep getting better, though.
The former Calhoun High star will now get to play in his home state and about an hour from where he first made his name on the local baseball scene. Culberson was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday in a five-player deal. Culberson, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Adrian Gonzalez were dealt to the Braves in exchange for Matt Kemp.
Culberson said everything happened in a hurry with the deal, and while he will definitely miss his time with the Dodgers, he is excited about what lies ahead for him with the Braves.
“The Dodgers GM (Farhan Zaidi) called me around noon on Saturday to let me know what was going on, and that he felt like this was a great opportunity for me,” said Culberson. “He said for me to be able to go back home to play for the Braves and the positive direction the organization is going, he felt like that was the best thing for me. Then I talked to Braves’ GM Alex Anthopoulos, who I already had a relationship with from his time with the Dodgers, and he filled me in on some information. I was shocked for sure, but all-in-all I’m excited about it. It’s pretty neat to be traded to a team I grew up following and idolizing its players. I’m looking forward to playing with the Braves and bringing whatever I can to the clubhouse and the field.”
Culberson is a 2007 graduate of Calhoun High where he played on a state championship team (2005) and state runner-up team for longtime Jackets’ head coach Chip Henderson. He was drafted 51st overall in the 2007 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. He has played in the Majors with the Giants and Rockies and has spent the last two seasons with the Dodgers’ organization.
The former Jacket is coming off a stellar performance in the playoffs for the Dodgers as he played in five of the seven World Series games and had three hits in his five at-bats, including a solo homer in the 11th inning of Game 2. Culberson made the World Series roster after an impressive National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs in which he went 5-for-11 with two doubles, a triple, an RBI and two runs scored.
“Spending parts of the last two seasons with the Dodgers, I definitely will miss the great people, staff, teammates and fans out there,” said Culberson. “Being there, I definitely created some lasting relationships and really was spoiled with how great of an organization it was. And also getting to be a part of the past two postseasons was great. That just gives me more motivation to bring that postseason experience here to Atlanta.
“You know as a baseball player this is a business so you always have to be prepared and expect things like this. I didn’t really know anything beforehand that I was going to be traded, and for it to be to the Braves makes it even more crazy. But now that I’m with them, I’m going to try to provide them with as much versatility as I can and do my best to help them as a team.”
Culberson added that he has driven by SunTrust Park so many times as he now lives in metro-Atlanta, but he has never actually been inside the stadium that opened at the start of last season. He said next up on the agenda is taking a physical with the Braves later this week and hopefully getting an inside look at the home park where he will be playing this coming season.
He said it is going to be a fun and different experience playing so close to home and for a team that he followed growing up, but one that he is looking forward to.
“It was pretty easy being a Braves fan with all the success that they had in the ‘90s and early 2000s,” said Culberson. “It was a lot of fun growing up watching them and all the good players they had come through. It’s going to be fun and a little surreal to get to put on that Braves’ uniform. And I know I’m going to be seeing a bunch of familiar faces being just about an hour from Calhoun and Rome. That will also be fun.”