Greenville's LeBlanc shoulders big responsibility

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Greenville's LeBlanc shoulders big responsibility

Lucas LeBlanc is an atypical minor league baseball player. Picture Tim Robbins' character from the movie Bull Durham, Nuke LaLoosh -- a brash, bar-hopping kid, concerned first and foremost about making the big leagues. Now picture his direct opposite.

LeBlanc, a 22-year-old outfielder with the Greenville Drive, a Single-A affiliate of the Red Sox, has much more on his mind than baseball, beer and girls. He has a family in the stands: two kids and his wife, Ashlie. He has a rent bill to pay on his own, unlike his teammates who shack up together to split costs. He has responsibility.

"Very, very rare to see at such a low level of baseball to have a family, two kids, a wife," said Drive manager Billy McMillon. "He's a real adult with real responsibilities. Any 22-year-old with two kids, that's one thing. Then you've gotta come out every day and play baseball? I don't know how he doesn't pull his hair out every day."

It's not easy for the kid from Lockport, Louisiana. Instead of playing for college baseball powerhouse Louisiana State University, where he had a scholarship waiting for him, LeBlanc is living with the ups and downs of minor league ball, trying to stand out.

The website SoxProspects.com says LeBlanc has "slightly above-average all-around tools, but none are stellar." His 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and his athleticism give him hope to stick around and maybe eventually move up the organizational ladder.

LeBlanc's climb recently hit a snag, though. He had to have surgery to repair a broken thumb, something that will keep him out of action for 3-4 weeks and undoubtedly leave him frustrated as his dream of making the big leagues -- and providing a better life for his young family -- stalls.

"If I have a bad game, they don't deserve me coming home in a bad mood," LeBlanc said. "I don't want to come home and be the mean dad. That's challenging."

His family tries to make it as easy on him as possible. Ashlie, who watches Drive games in a team jersey with the family surname on the back, is an unwavering supporter of her husband's dream. It's her's, too.

"No regrets," she said. "We don't want to not do something just because it might be hard. It's worth it because you live once and you want to be able to say I did what I wanted to do."

LeBlanc is doing what he wants, even if his way is different than that of his teammates.

On the field, baseball is baseball. But when LeBlanc is going home to put two kids to bed, it doesn't leave a whole lot of room for socializing away from the diamond.

"Me and all the guys have diff priorities, obviously," LeBlanc said. "I don't get to spend as much time with teammates as other guys do. They know that , but they know my situation and I get along with everyone. At the end of the day it's just family. Family's what you got, and I just try to look out for them as much as I can."

Farrell: Betts ‘day to day’ with sore knee

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Farrell: Betts ‘day to day’ with sore knee

BOSTON — Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts left the game against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning on Friday night with soreness in his right knee.

Manager John Farrell said after game that Betts' had recently had "some treatment" for the knee and it has been something the team has monitored since the All-Star break. The Red Sox announced after Betts left the game that he was considered day-to-day. 

Betts, who led off the game with a home run for the second consecutive night, was replaced in right field by Michael Martinez in the top of the fifth. 

Betts, an All-Star Game starter, leads the Red Sox with 127 hits and is second on the team with 20 home runs and 63 RBI.

Associated Press material included in this story.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam