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MLB utilityman, who owns 1.23 ERA in mop-up duty, to report to Braves spring training as relief pitcher

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Veteran MLB utilityman/journeyman Charlie Culberson has decided to convert to pitching, reports Jon Heyman. He’s set to report to Braves camp as a minor-league relief pitcher. 

Culberson, 34, was on the Braves roster for quite a while last season, but only appeared in one game. Still, he logged service time for his 11th major-league season. He’s spent time with the Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Braves, Rangers and Rays (though he never played in a game for the Rays). He’s appeared in games as a third baseman, left fielder, shortstop, second baseman, first baseman, designated hitter, right fielder and, yes, as a pitcher. 

Culberson has been one of those position-player pitchers that used to be a fun anomaly but has been completely overplayed in recent years. He’s actually fared well, statistically, with a 1.23 ERA in 7 1/3 MLB innings, though I’d hardly put stock in the numbers in those types of situations with the game out of hand and everyone just wanting to go home. Still, he has touched 94 mph on a major-league mound, and it didn’t even look high effort: 

It’ll be a fun side story to track with Culberson heading to his age-35 season as a reliever in the minors. 

Seeing this conversation is rare, but it does happen. A high-profile swing in the opposite direction was Rick Ankiel going from pitcher to outfielder. Kenley Jansen started as a catcher in the minors and is now one of the best closers of his generation. Remember Anthony Gose? He was an outfielder from 2012-16 and then made the majors as a reliever in 2021-22. 

Culberson will look to follow in Gose’s footsteps. 

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