Baseball world rallies around Hendriks

January 9th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- Let’s start with the obvious: Cancer sucks.

All of us have dealt with this insidious disease either personally or through a relative, friend or even co-worker. Cancer also should be embarrassed by the hideous ways it treats good people.

These thoughts all went through my mind once again Sunday night when White Sox closer announced he was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and his treatment begins Monday. Here’s a part of Hendriks’ statement, true to his character:

“I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back on the mound as soon as possible. I know with the support of my wife, my family, my teammates, and the Chicago White Sox organization, along with the treatment and care from my doctors, I will get through this.”

Hendriks and his wife, Kristi, live their lives with positive, upbeat attitudes. They have been giving back to the people of Chicago and its surrounding communities since they arrived, but now it’s their turn to receive support. Countless baseball fans and media alike sent uplifting messages on Twitter and virtually every Major League organization tweeted out messages of encouragement through the respective team accounts.

The native Australian is an engaging character who audibly swears when he misses a spot even during Spring Training bullpens and has a plethora of intricate Lego models he put together that are stationed near his front left locker in the home clubhouse. No question is too tough for Hendriks to handle, and trust me, he’s discussed some hot button issues over his time in Chicago. But Hendriks doesn’t talk just to talk -- he’s informed on the issues and makes people think, even if you don’t agree.

His humor is prevalent throughout a long season. When Byron Buxton walked him off with a mammoth blast in Target Field on April 24, Hendriks later joked if he was going to give up a game-winner, it might as well be the longest walk-off measured by Statcast (which it was).

General manager Rick Hahn said as part of a statement on Sunday that the White Sox do not expect to have any updates on Hendriks' playing status prior to Opening Day at the very earliest. To be honest, the intricacies of baseball don’t remotely matter when we are talking about Hendriks' health.

At the end of each of his 75 White Sox saves, Hendriks does a celebratory uppercut fist pump as he jumps off the mound toward the catcher. I envision him doing the same, joined by Kristi, once he rings the bell after beating cancer.