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."

Pomeranz scratched from last start, could pitch out of bullpen in playoffs

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Pomeranz scratched from last start, could pitch out of bullpen in playoffs

NEW YORK -- With the postseason just over a week away, it didn't appear that Drew Pomeranz was going to be part of the Red Sox' starting rotation.

On Tuesday, that became official.

Pomeranz was scratched from his last scheduled start of the regular season Thursday with some soreness in his forearm. Henry Owens will take his turn against the Yankees.

"He's come out of this last start (in Tampa Bay) a little bit more sore,'' said John Farrell. "There's been a need for additinal recovery time (and there's also) the total number of innings pitched. There's a number of factors.

"The forearm area is where he's experiencing some discomfort. He needs a few extra days. So combined with his career high in innings pitched (169.1), we're backing him out of his last start.''

Farrell emphasized that Pomeranz hadn't been shut down for the season, but did say that if the lefty pitched again, it would be out of the bullpen.

"We need to get him back on a mound,'' Farrell said, "hopefully by the end of the week to determine what role he'll have in the bullpen going forward.''

The fact that the Red Sox were a win -- or a Toronto loss -- away from clinching the division and have the luxury of being careful didn't have an impact on the decision to hold him out.

"You always put the player's health at the forefront,'' said Farrell. "Is this increased risk with the higher number of innings, or additional needed recovery time? You factor those in. This is independent of the standings.''

Pomeranz appeared to have been squeezed out of playoff rotation, with the four spots going to Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz.

In 13 starts, Pomeranz was 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA with the Red Sox after being obtained in a July trade with San Diego.

Two weeks ago, the Padres were disciplined for not fully disclosing all the necessary medical information with the Red Sox leading up to the deal, with GM A.J. Preller suspended for 30 days without pay.

It's unclear whether this injury is at all related to info the Padres withheld from the Red Sox.

"I can't really comment on that,'' Farrell said. "I do know what the player needs is some additional time. What's attached to that previously, I really don't have the specifics.''