Spare Parts: Liam Hendriks can now look ahead after cancer battle

White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks
(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

One thing I’ve learned while following Liam Hendriks as he dealt with non-Hodgkin lymphoma is that the language of cancer treatments is tricky. There was a lot of good news down the home stretch, especially when he underwent his fourth and final chemotherapy treatment and rang the bell afterward, but it was easy to get carried away and rush toward even better news with careless wording.

So I appreciated that Hendriks wore a “Struckout Cancer” shirt in his media conference with reporters at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday. If he can use past tense, then so can we.

With Hendriks now turning his attention to a rehab stint in the minor leagues starting with Charlotte this weekend, he thanked reporters for maintaining discretion during treatment and opened the floor for questions.

He said he’d found lumps in his neck during the summer, but the formal, Stage 4 diagnosis wasn’t made until December because blood tests didn’t immediately show it. He said that

One of his answers agreed what Ethan Katz had suspected, in that Hendriks might’ve been dealing with it during the whole 2022 season.

“There was always the chance I pitched damn near all year with lymphoma in my system,” Hendriks said. “I’d like to think that was the reason I struggled to recover, and the end of the year I was damn near limping to the finish line. But yeah, that’s one thing obviously can come through. Who knows how much that actually affected me. We’ll find out when I get into — as long as Pedro (Grifol) is in here — four or five games in a row and move forward with that. I don’t think it helped. I think it definitely took its toll on my immune system. Only time will tell. As you know, I like to be available to throw multiple innings and go back-to-back and that was severely limited last year. Hopefully that was a contributing factor to it and we can move forward and get back to what I like to do, and that’s pitch every day.”

But even though he better understands the toll it took on his body, he said he’s not going to take it any easier on himself should his old success not return to him quickly.

You can watch his entire address here:

Spare Parts

Because Keynan Middleton was a non-roster invitee who didn’t have an inside track to cracking the 26-man roster on Opening Day, there wasn’t a whole lot about him. Between this Shakeia Taylor column about Middleton and his postgame slam of Carlos Correa, I feel like I gained a better sense of the guy on Wednesday.

Russell Carleton ran the numbers and said that a designated runner might be worth something like 10 runs over 162 games, although watching Billy Hamilton since he returned to the 26-man roster.

The A’s “binding agreement” for land in Las Vegas is contingent on the A’s gaining legislative approval for a tax package, and apparently John Fisher has not done the legwork needed to secure those funds. There are only 34 days left in the session, and the speaker of Nevada’s Assembly says there hasn’t been any kind of “concrete ask.”

The NLBM announced a “Pitch for the Future” campaign to create a new facility that would be triple the size of the current museum, incorporating the Buck O’Neil Education and Resarch Center that took over the YMCA where the Negro Leagues were established in 1920. As always, consider a membership.

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GrinnellSteve

I’m so tickled for Liam.

As Cirensica

Thank you so much for referring to us that article about Middleton with a lot of things about him I wasn’t aware of. I’m a fan.

roke1960

Liam is quite a warrior! I’m so happy for him!

With Liam and Crochet back soon, the bullpen should be loaded. Liam, Rey, Graveman, Kelly, Bummer, Crochet, Middleton, Santos. I think Lambert will be the odd man out, but with injuries, he’ll probably stick around. Someone in the organization needs to tell Hahn to stop spending on relievers. There are probably many more Santoses and Middletons out there. Just look at Tampa.

Willardmarshall

Just look at Tampa indeed. $73 million payroll. Now there’s a front office to admire…..

bobsquad

Can anyone explain the competitive advantage of the Rays’ bullpen strategy? They’ve DFA’d 3 guys this season (Braden Bristo, Heath Hembree, Zack Burdi) each after just 1 appearance, and it would seem they’re just getting started: they’ve traded for 2 out of options relievers in the past week who presumably will pitch a few games and get DFA’d.

Is the point that this games the opposing team’s batting preparation? Do we think they shuttle guys in and out based on hyper-specific metrics (weather, park, expected outcome versus individual batters)? It’s hard to argue with the results (2nd best bullpen ERA), but if I’m a manager expecting to go deep in the playoffs that high roster churn makes me nervous.

ParisSox

Maybe they’ll implement the contract worker model for bullpens

calcetinesblancos

It seems clear to me that they just don’t get attached to players in general. With relievers, they seem fine with auditioning them to see what they do in actual games. And since most of these guys are scrap heap types, they can get them back at some point if they need them most likely.

Mad respect to their uniform department though. Must be like a sweatshop over there.

ChiTownMax25

With new option rules they don’t want to use up 1 of 5 in-season options for their actual prospects with low leverage appearances. So they use a Chase Anderson type of guy for mop-up duty, then DFA him. The Rays have good enough track record with development that some of these guys might stick around and do it again when asked upon, but if they want to explore opportunities elsewhere, the Rays don’t feel like they’re losing much and can do the same thing with similar types of pitchers.

Joe

Yeah, the Trib piece on Middleton was terrific

asinwreck

Yes. I’ve said it elsewhere, but I am so pleased by Shakeia Taylor’s work at the Tribune.

GrinnellSteve

That’s a pretty fearsome 6-9: Alberto, Andrus, Sosa, Zavala. Planned off day for Timmy? Or did he tweak something last night?

Foulkelore

That’s my first concern as well. Hopefully it was planned with the first day game after a night game after Tim’s return.

As Cirensica

Why? Why does he need a day off after two measly games? This is one of those things that infuriates me about the White Sox organization. The rest players A LOT, presumably to keep them rested and in optimal form, and yet they always get hurt. Jose Ramirez has played more than 150 games per season in 5 years already. Why can’t we have a Jose Ramirez….well we had Jose Abreu. Maybe you need to be named Jose to play a lot.

a-t

Because he just came back from a knee injury and it’s probably a little sore?

BenwithVen

**Luis Robert Jr. doesn’t tell management that he’s sore in fear being sat for a game**

“What an idiot! he could have hurt himself even more! Trade him!”

**TA getting an off day 2 days after coming off the IL for a sprained knee**

“UNBELIVABLE! HOW COME THESE GUYS CAN’T PLAY EVERY GAME LIKE ABREU DID! SOFT!”

I get we’re frustrated, but seething because Pedro is resting a player who just came back from injury isn’t it.

Last edited 1 year ago by BenwithVen
As Cirensica

If you leave the IL, it is because you are 100% healthy. Players play with pain all year long. Deal with it….unless you are a White Sox player, you’ll get unlimited rest days.

I love this from Ozzie. 100% on the money.

BenwithVen

So you complain about players always being injured, but you expect them to play through pain (which makes the injuries worse, not to mention performance).

Like, did you not see what happened to Luis last year?

As Cirensica

That’s not my point. My point is that the White Sox core players don’t play 150+ games or not even 120+ games for whatever reasons and excuses you can enumerate.

a-t

I don’t think that’s correct; you leave the IL when you’re healthy enough to play effectively without risking erasing all your previous progress on the injury. That doesn’t at all mean 100% healed, leg or elbow things often take as long to get from ~80% healed to 100% healed as they do from initial injury to 80% healed.

Last edited 1 year ago by a-t
HallofFrank

I agree with you guys but I take @As Cirensica’s point. However the Sox are trying to manage injuries is clearly not working. If TA is indeed 80% back such that he can’t play 3 games in row after a long absence, maybe it’s worth reconsidering when to bring him back. Are they bringing guys back too soon, and that’s exacerbating the injury problem?

Maybe the solution is longer IL stints and getting the guy back to 100%. I don’t know, obviously. But the Sox staff doesn’t seem to know, either.

FishSox

I mentioned to the wife last night that Tim wasn’t walking well.

jorgefabregas

Pardon me if I’m repeating what’s in Tribune articles (I don’t have access), but Middleton’s savant page is interesting. White Sox have moved his changeup from his third pitch to his first. All 3 of his pitches have gotten a lot of whiffs, but the other two have been hit hard when they’ve been hit.