Hendriks aims to pitch during the 2024 season after Tommy John

August 12th, 2023

CHICAGO -- Here’s an interesting tidbit from ’ 16-minute media session prior to Friday’s series opener with Milwaukee, marking the White Sox closer’s first comments since having Tommy John surgery while the team was in Arlington, Texas, from Aug. 1-3.

Hendriks would like to pitch during the 2024 season.

Interesting, but certainly not surprising. The 34-year-old fought his way through chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a diagnosis announced on Jan. 8 on his Instagram, and was able to return on May 29. So, he certainly will work his way toward the early side of the 12-14 month recovery following a procedure to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

“The lower end of that, if I push it, 13 months will be around Sept. 2,” Hendriks said. “My goal is to be able to pitch next year and then be able to have a relatively normal offseason. I want to be able to get back out there and pitch and go back into my normal routine, a little bit more of just the way I do my offseason throwing programs and stuff like that. It’s going to be an important facet for me.

“Depending on what happens contract-wise, who knows if I’m going to need that little showcase at the end of the season to be able to get a job. We’ll take that as it comes. It’s a wide range with one side being back in August and one side not being back at all.”

There’s no question Hendriks can pitch with soreness or even pain. He did so in ‘22 when battling through a similar injury. He worked out during this past Spring Training when feeling strong enough in between cancer treatments.

So, when Hendriks told manager Pedro Grifol there was pain slowing him down when throwing as he tried to work his way back, Grifol knew it was something beyond the norm.

“It was unfortunate for him,” Grifol said. “He went through a lot in the off-season. Once he beat that and came back to pitch, he deserved it. I believe everything happens for a reason. I don't think you're given anymore than you can handle.

“He can handle this. He's strong enough, he'll get through it and he'll be better when he comes back.”

An initial tear Hendriks has had for years tore a little more as he progressed. But Hendriks stressed the injury and ensuing surgery had nothing to do with rushing back.

“I threw more bullpens than anybody in this clubhouse when I was coming back, I want to make sure that that’s well known,” Hendriks said. “It was a little bit of pain before I went on my rehab assignment and it was something I’ve dealt with before and I felt I could throw through it and it just kept kind of compounding on each other.

“I’m not exactly one to say I can’t pitch and went out there and took the ball for as long as I could. Unfortunately, it ended up this way, but I’ll be 35 with a brand new elbow and so hopefully it gives me a couple extra years ... There’s nothing I can do to change it. It will be nice to be able to brush my teeth without any pain for the first time in about a decade.”

Despite being done for the season, Hendriks called White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, general manager Rick Hahn and the training staff to make sure he could still be with the team. He didn’t want to be a burden, but Hendriks also felt he could bring something as a mentor to the younger hurlers.

As for his future, the White Sox have a $15 million club option on Hendriks for ‘24. If the club declines, the option is paid out in $1.5 million installments from 2024-33. Even if it’s not with the White Sox, Hendriks will pitch again.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be back. Same thing as when everything happened in January,” said Hendriks, who finished with a 5.40 ERA and one save in ‘23 but posted 76 saves with the White Sox. “[I've been] pitching with a less than stellar elbow for 15 years, so having a new one out there, hopefully I can add an extra couple of years on the back end.

“I’ve always said I wanted to pitch until I was 40. And this means after this one I should be able to hopefully go longer.”