In his first meeting with the media since joining the Texas Rangers, it didn't take long for Charlie Culberson to flash some personality. Culberson answered questions from the club's Kansas City Zoom room while sporting an Avengers headband.
"I love the Avengers," Culberson said. "I love superheroes. My kids do too. Me and my little boy, we have fun with it. ... I love them all. I love the movies. I love collecting things. It's a fun hobby for me."
In a debate that will likely continue among comic book and superhero fans alike for year to come, Culberson's favorite Avenger is...
"I'm torn," Culberson said. "Captain America and Iron Man are right there neck-and-neck."
I think most of us who are fans of the Avengers can agree they're a pretty good team. Granted, it took every last one of them and a well-debated jump through time to (SPOILER ALERT) defeat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, but still a good and dangerous team nonetheless.
The Rangers offense flashed signs of being a dangerous team in Kansas City's opener, at least on the offensive side of things. They scored five runs in the first inning, becoming the second team in Major League Baseball history to record base hits in their first six official at-bats to open a season (1995 Atlanta Braves).
"Watching that game, it was pretty impressive obviously from the get-go," Culberson said. "I think having that collective mindset as an offense for that day and that particular pitcher and bullpen is contagious. It showed yesterday. A super long game. So many crazy things happening. Just seeing good at-bat after good at-bat, one right after another, it was fun to watch. Hopefully, that's a mindset that we keep every single day this year."
It goes without saying how difficult it is to sustain the type of offensive output the Rangers posted in Thursday's opener. 10 runs on 15 hits, remarkably with no home runs, will not happen every game. But keeping the mentality to compete at that level is sustainable. And that takes a full team effort.
Culberson doesn't factor in as a regular player for the Rangers this season. However, some of the best teams in the history of the game have had a deep and valuable bench. That value can come in different shapes and sizes. What the Rangers expect out of Culberson is providing a veteran presence, capable of driving home the same mentality displayed in the team's 10-run outburst to begin the season.
If he's not in the lineup, how does Culberson tangibly provide that from the bench?
"Being in every pitch," Culberson said. "I've been a bench guy pretty much my whole career. If I'm in the clubhouse just hanging out and not watching the game, I'm not doing my job as far as being there for my teammates. Whether it's myself watching video, I have something on a pitcher that I've faced before, it's my job to be there to help out in any way that I can."
Culberson may not be the Captain America or Iron Man of the 2021 Texas Rangers. But just as every Avenger played a role in defeating Thanos, Culberson can help this team run the gauntlet more often than expected this season.
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