CHICAGO — Arguably the best storyline of a difficult start for the White Sox has been the comeback of their All-Star closer.
Liam Hendriks, who began treatments for Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January, finished treatments in April, was declared cancer-free, and is well into his work to return to the major leagues.
But when will that happen?
Well, there isn’t a definitive answer to that, but Hendriks is back with the White Sox in Chicago as he continues to get himself back to form and make his 2023 debut for the club.
Hendriks was in the bullpen throwing on Thursday as the White Sox completed their series with the Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field. It’s expected that he’ll throw batting practice on Friday before they open a three-game series against the Royals.
Manager Pedro Grifol said on Thursday that he still wasn’t sure when Hendriks will officially be activated by the club. He remains on the 15-day IL, which he was placed on Opening Day.
After completing his cancer treatments, Hendriks began throwing at the White Sox spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona. He was then assigned to the White Sox Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte in early May, where he pitched in six games.
Hendriks didn’t allow a run in three appearances, including his first outing for the Knights on May 5 against Gwinett. There were a few rougher outings, including allowing four runs to Durham in 2/3 innings on May 11, but those were to be expected as he gets ready to rejoin the White Sox bullpen.
In total, Hendriks finished with five innings pitched in Charlotte with six earned runs allowed on seven hits (10.80 ERA) with five strikeouts compared to one walk.
At the same time, he did what he could to help out his short-time teammates, even buying the entire staff lunch three times in Charlotte.
Getting the closer back in the bullpen will help a struggling White Sox team that’s off to a 16-29 start to the season. Joining the club in 2021 as a free agent, Hendriks has made the All-Star team both years, won the AL’s Reliever of the Year in 2021, and has 75 saves in 85 attempts.