Culberson making most of opportunity with Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A year later and with a different team, Rockies infielder Charlie Culberson is getting a chance in Spring Training.

Last year, Culberson suffered a broken left index finger in a weight-training mishap just before going to camp with the Giants -- who selected him as a supplemental first-round pick in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He didn't play all spring and spent most of the year at Triple-A Fresno, although he did get into eight games with the Giants. Ultimately, Culberson was traded to the Rockies for second baseman Marco Scutaro, who would earn National League Championship Series MVP honors and help the Giants win the World Series.

For Culberson, 23, the final five weeks of the season turned out to be the audition he didn't get in Spring Training. Culberson hit .336 in 30 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs, where Stu Cole was manager and Rene Lachemann was on the coaching staff. Now Cole is coaching third base and Lachemann is coaching first base on new Rockies manager Walt Weiss' staff.

"They know me -- playing against them a few series here and there, and then playing for them the last five weeks, that helped me out coming into Spring Training," Culberson said. "It would have been nice to have been called up last year, but things didn't work out the way I wanted them to. That's just how it goes."

The Rockies are taking a long look at Culberson this spring. With expected regulars gradually working into playing shape, he has seen extensive duty at second base and third base. Going into Friday night against the Royals, he was 2-for-11, with the hits being a home run and a triple. Club officials like his defense, say there is some power in his bat and that he runs well.

After being crowded out by veteran infielders throughout his time with the Giants, Culberson finds another packed situation in the Rockies' infield. The plan is for Josh Rutledge to start at second base and Troy Tulowitzki is the star shortstop, which means Culberson is competing for backup slots with Reid Brignac, who has proven himself defensively at short in the Majors, DJ LeMahieu and Jonathan Herrera.

Culberson was drafted as a shortstop and spent a year at third base but has been primarily a second baseman the past three years. However, he feels comfortable moving around the diamond.

"I'm here to play, and the Rockies are giving me a chance," Culberson said. "I can't ask for much more."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.