Liam Hendriks is returning to the mound for the White Sox.
The All-Star reliever spent almost six months fighting non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In April, Hendriks announced that he was in remission. Now, he’s on the precipice of taking the hill again for Chicago. The franchise announced that Hendriks will be activated from the injured list for Monday’s game vs. the Angels.
The White Sox used every tool at their disposal to alert the masses to Hendriks’ impending return, including a poignant video on Twitter. The 90-second production features numerous teammates, from Dylan Cease to Andrew Vaughn, offering kind words.
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The message was simple: Welcome back, Liam. The players and coaches embraced Hendriks, one of baseball’s more effervescent personalities, returning to the clubhouse.
Your journey is an inspiration. We couldn’t be more proud.
Welcome back, Liam Hendriks! pic.twitter.com/fbQ6jwJsks
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 28, 2023
Hendriks was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in December. He said that he believed the cancer impacted him way before his diagnosis; he noticed lumps in his neck and hips last summer.
Earlier in May, the 34-year-old credited his prospective return to a “why not me” attitude that he employed shortly after receiving his test results. He showed signs of progress in the early months of treatment and then announced that he was in remission.
MORE: Hendriks ‘cancer-free’ after non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis
Hendriks’ big league return took some time after that. The two-time Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year winner trekked to Charlotte for a rehab stint with the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate. In six appearances, he allowed six earned runs in five innings with five strikeouts and one walk.
He then rejoined Chicago’s big league squad and threw three live batting sessions, per MLB.com.
Now, he’s set to slide into a bullpen that has been noticeably improved as of late; Chicago’s relievers have posted a 2.35 ERA in the group’s last 14 games.
There may be a temptation to immediately hand Hendriks the ball in tight spots. He’s one of the game’s best closers when he’s on: Hendriks sports a 2.26 ERA over his past four seasons, with 114 saves, 359 strikeouts and 47 walks in 239 innings pitched.
Manager Pedro Grifol doesn’t feel the need to go that way, however. He said that the White Sox are planning to bring Hendriks back in non-pressure situations. They’re hoping that those conditions will allow him to eventually return to his best.
“We’re going to make sure that his comeback is, [that] he’s ready to go, to be the Liam Hendriks that we all want him to be and that he wants him to be,” Grifol said Thursday.