Beloved and hardworking, and one of the most lovable players not only on the White Sox, but in all of baseball — that’s Chicago closer Liam Hendriks. So as much as it was devastating when Hendriks announced earlier this year that he had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, it was only a sign of not only what a tough and trying year it would be for him.
Hendriks, despite all the obstacles he faced, fought to not only beat cancer, but miraculously pitch and make his season debut for the Sox on May 29 at Guaranteed Rate Field. He pitched in four more games after that, recording his first save since returning on June 6 at Yankee Stadium. There was understandably a lot of emotion from Hendriks and his teammates when he got that first save — as well as baseball fans everywhere, because of how beloved he is by so many around baseball.
Unfortunately that high was short-lived, as a few days later on June 11, Hendriks was placed on the injured list with right elbow inflammation after going 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in five innings, with three strikeouts and the one save.
Since then, it had been six weeks of no news or updates about our closer, until the Sox suddenly announced with a press release on August 2 that Hendriks had undergone successful Tommy John surgery that morning to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
This is truly devastating news not only for Hendriks and the team, but baseball as a whole. An injury of this degree, given his age and health challenges over the past year, could very well spell the end of his White Sox and major league career. You truly hate even thinking of that possibility, but it is there. With the type of recovery it would take for Liam to mount yet another comeback, it would be a very hard-fought road and battle to even get back to the mound again, let alone pitch at the high level we all expect from him. If anyone can make such a comeback, though, he is definitely one that would be able to. Don’t rule anything out when it comes to Liam Hendriks.
If worse comes to worse and if his career is actually over, Hendriks definitely has a career fighting for others off the field to bring more awareness and possible treatments to research for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We saw that come through clearly in his powerful speech at the ESPYs last month, accepting the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. So, as Hendriks has done throughout his career to this point, he’ll keep fighting to help others outside of baseball and sports as well, people who are your everyday, normal folks who have had to fight similar battles as he. People like my mother, a Sox fan who had to fight breast cancer after being diagnosed at the end of 2021, but successfully had radiation to remove it in 2022.
No matter where your road to recovery takes you, Liam, you’ll always be an important member of the White Sox family. Get well soon!