Back from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Hendriks pitches for White Sox

ByJESSE ROGERS
May 30, 2023, 12:19 AM

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks allowed two runs on three hits and a walk to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, his first outing since recovering from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Hendriks, 34, got several standing ovations, both before he took the mound and when he entered the game in the top of the eighth inning. He pitched one inning.

"It was definitely emotional," Hendriks said after the 6-4 loss. "It was humbling going out there and seeing the amount of people wearing my shirts, the amount of people having signs or flags or anything like that -- the amount of people that were chanting when I came into the game."

Both teams stood and clapped for Hendriks, as did the Memorial Day crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field. Home plate umpire John Libka and Angels lead-off man that inning, Matt Thaiss, also gave Hendriks a moment to take it all in before beginning the inning.

"It was great being back out there," Hendriks stated. "I felt good. I felt strong. I felt comfortable out there. Unfortunately, for me, I wasn't able to get the 2 strike pitch where I wanted it."

Hendriks threw 27 pitches, giving up runs on a sacrifice fly by Zach Neto and an infield single by Mike Trout. He eventually got Shohei Ohtani to ground out to end the inning, his first since Oct. 3.

He kept his first pitch of the inning as a keepsake.

"The outpouring of love, not only online and on social media, but in person, has been huge and I want to thank the city of Chicago for embracing us in this way," Hendriks said.

Hendriks was diagnosed with cancer in December, going public with the news in early January. His goal was to come back without being placed on the 60-day injured list. He accomplished that.

"He came up to me in the parking lot when I first got to Arizona at the start of spring training," general manager Rick Hahn said before the game. "He told me, 'I could be back before those 60 days are up.' (Monday) is Day 60. ... (And) we are literally, only 45 days removed from his last chemotherapy treatment so it's remarkable that he's here."

Hahn indicated the team is dealing in somewhat "unchartered" territory in terms of his rehab and usage on the mound. After the outing, his manager indicated it's a day-by-day assessment and wasn't sure when Hendriks might resume closing duties.

"We'll process this as we go," Pedro Grifol said. "Too early for that answer. We'll see how he feels (Tuesday) and make that decision as we go."

Said Hendriks about returning to the ninth inning: "I need to earn it."

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