Liam Hendriks Sharp, Gets First Win Of Season Originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
When Liam Hendriks first returned to the White Sox, he knew he would have to re-earn his closing role. Obviously, it’s not easy to play again nearly half a year after receiving a cancer diagnosis, so it’s understandable that Pedro Grifol called out Hendriks in the eighth inning in his first game of the 2023 season. as accurate as ever, so no one saddened Hendriks when he gave up two runs and three hits in his first appearanceー except Hendriks, of course. The ferocious reliever was happy to be healthy and back playing, but he wasn’t happy with his results.
“I’ll never be okay with mediocrity,” Hendriks said after his 2023 debut. “I’ll never be okay with not being in the back of the bullpen. But, saying that, I need to earn it. I don’t want handouts. I need to earn it. In the end of the day, that’s mine.” .
“I’ll get there and I’ll earn it myself.”
In his second game back, Hendriks entered in the seventh inning. It was something he didn’t do at all in 2022 and only a few times in 2021 when the White Sox were trying to figure out how to fit Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel into the same bullpen. Hendriks was much sharper in his second appearance. He got his first strikeout and didn’t allow a baserunner. That was enough for Grifol to hit Hendriks again in the ninth inning on Sundayー, which coincidentally is National Cancer Survivors Dayー and Hendriks delivered his best performance of the year.
Hendriks was called upon to keep Detroit in the final frame, as the Tigers and White Sox were locked at two runs apiece. Out of the gate, his slider was the best looking, and when he can throw his slider for strikes, opposing hitters usually don’t stand a chance. Sunday was no different. He easily retired the team with two strikeouts and threw 10 of his 15 total pitches for strikes.
The White Sox responded with a thrilling lead-off of a grand slam by Jake Burger, with Hendriks picking up the win in the process.
“It’s been an emotional week,” Hendriks said after the game. “Things worked out too, which was good. It’s one of those scripts. I mean, my wife texted me and said, ‘You got your first win on National Cancer Survivors Day. That is something that is quite special.
“Obviously, as soon as you are diagnosed, you are considered a survivor. You have lived this. I hope I can keep moving forward and at least do the right thing on the pitch, and it gives people some hope to keep fighting.”
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