Liam Hendriks is officially returning to the majors, as the White Sox announced (via a welcome-back video on their team Twitter feed) that the closer will be activated from the 15-day injured list on Monday prior to their game with the Angels. Hendriks announced in January that he was starting treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but after finishing that treatment in early April, he thankfully announced a cancer-free diagnosis just over a month ago.
Hendriks threw six Triple-A rehab outings earlier this month, and has also been throwing bullpens and live BP sessions to continue building up his arm strength. Reports surfaced yesterday that Hendriks seemed to be nearing his return date, and the decision was made that the closer was ready to again face Major League hitters.
It’s great news all around that Hendriks has been able to emerge from his health scare, and now looks to get back onto the mound for what will be his 13th MLB campaign. It remains to be seen if Hendriks will be eased into action or whether or not he’ll be immediately able to pitch at his usual elite level, but even off the field, his return is an enormous lift to the White Sox clubhouse, as Hendriks is a beloved figure both with teammates and with his peers throughout baseball. Sticking just to on-field matters, it will naturally help Chicago’s struggling bullpen to regain a top closer.
Hendriks has three All-Star appearances and two top-nine AL Cy Young finishes in the last four seasons, racking up 114 saves for the A’s and White Sox in that time. 2023 is technically the final guaranteed year of Hendriks’ three-year, $54MM free agent deal with the Sox, but the White Sox have a $15MM club option and a $15MM buyout on his services for the 2024 season, so it would appear as though Hendriks will be retained for another year.
A trade could change matters, but while the White Sox fell to 22-33 after today’s loss to the Tigers, the club has somewhat stabilized things after their dreadful 7-20 April record. No one player can turn things around for a team, but getting Hendriks back should help the Sox try to get back into contention in the weak AL Central.