White Sox closer Liam Hendriks nearing return after announcing he’s cancer-free

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Liam Hendriks’ return to Major League Baseball could be on the horizon.

The Chicago White Sox closer, who announced in January that he was battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is headed to Chicago this week and will take live batting practice Friday after his Triple-A rehab stint, he he told ESPN on Thursday. If Hendriks’ live batting practice session goes well, he could pitch in the majors soon after, according to the report.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol relayed similar news Wednesday, telling reporters that Hendriks could pitch again with Chicago “early next week or late next week.”

“Liam will be here tomorrow or Friday, and then we’ll sit down and talk about how we’re going to proceed,” Grifol said. “With Liam, though, it’s day-to-day. There’s no blueprint for it.”

Grifol wants to see how Hendriks’ body reacts to the live batting practice session before committing to the pitcher’s return date.

“We’re just going to sit with him, see how his body feels, see how his arm feels,” Grifol said. “And then we’ll make adjustments to whatever we have, whatever we have to do.”

Hendriks announced that he was beginning treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma on January 8, and later revealed that it was stage 4 cancer. After telling White Sox fans that he was in his final round of chemotherapy in the first game of the team on April 3, Hendriks announced that he was in remission and was cancer-free on April 20.

Hendriks, who has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past few seasons, is ready to roll again.

“I have a clean bill of health as of now,” Hendriks told reporters on May 3. “I’m currently in remission.”

Not long after Hendriks announced that he was cancer-free, he began his rehab assignment at the team’s facility in Arizona before being moved to Triple-A Charlotte. Hendriks has allowed six earned runs in five innings pitched in six appearances.

Hendriks recorded 39 saves during the COVID-shortened 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Oakland Athletics. He had a career-best 38 saves in his first season with the White Sox in 2021, and recorded 37 last season.

Chicago’s bullpen has struggled without Hendriks. Reynaldo Lopez has recorded four saves in eight chances and the team has just seven saves about a quarter into the 2023 MLB season.

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