Hendriks announces he is in remission: 'It's official. I'm cancer free'

April 22nd, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- When the word “cancer” was first mentioned in relation to , all talk and thoughts about baseball quickly and understandably were pushed aside by the White Sox.

The only focus centered on supporting Liam and his wife, Kristi, and doing whatever they could to help Hendriks win his battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But with Hendriks cancer-free as of Thursday, per his announcement on Instagram, the White Sox can slowly start thinking about getting one of the game’s best closers back into their bullpen.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said White Sox first baseman , an offseason neighbor of the Hendriks in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I mean, as soon as I saw it, I [texted] him and said, ‘When does the rehab assignment start?’ He replied, ‘As soon as I get my first live BP, and it’s on.’ That’s pretty cool.”

“Everything is laid out,” White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz said. “Now, he just has to kind of hit all those milestones and get him back and get his presence around here, do a couple of rehab assignments, and we’ll get him back as soon as he finishes that program.”

While the White Sox will be thrilled to have Hendriks’ immense ability and equally electric personality back on the roster, there was more of a feeling of thankfulness Friday at Tropicana Field.

Hendriks broke the great news Thursday with the message, “REMISSION. It’s official. I’m cancer free.”

“You get caught up in the competitiveness. You get caught up in the slow start or injuries,” said general manager Rick Hahn during a recent interview prior to Thursday. “You can always find something to be a little frustrated and disappointed about this game if you let it. But with Liam, he’s helped all of us sort of take a broader view about what’s important on a day-to-day basis.

“At the same time, we’ve seen him not lose an ounce of his competitiveness, whether it’s been a battle against cancer or his battle to get back to his previous form and rejoin us. I think he’s been able to provide us all with a healthy dose of perspective as well as a lot of inspiration. Looking forward to having him back.”

This news comes about three months after Hendriks announced that he was beginning treatment. Earlier this month, Hendriks shared a video on Instagram showing him ringing a victory bell, signifying the end of his chemotherapy.

Despite undergoing chemo treatments during Spring Training, Hendriks played long toss and threw bullpen sessions when he felt right. He’ll still be going through a mini-Spring Training, but through his previous work, Hendriks won’t be starting from scratch.

“I’ve actually seen four or five of those sessions in Spring Training, and his velocity maybe wasn’t exactly where he wanted it, but his effort, his arm, the way it worked, just his competitiveness, all that was there,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “He’s been working. Knowing the attitude, mentality and the personality, there’s no telling. There’s a plan in place, but he’ll let us know how he’s feeling.”

“In Spring Training when he wanted to throw and do things, I really was more focused on, like, ‘Are you OK to do this? Is this something that’s not going to [lead to] any setbacks for yourself?’ That’s kind of where my mind was,” Katz said. “But now that he actually did all those things, it was actually a blessing in disguise because he did so much that now it kind of speeds up everything else.”

The 34-year-old Hendriks signed a three-year, $54 million deal with the White Sox prior to the 2021 season and has made the All-Star team in each of the past two seasons. He has recorded 75 saves and a 2.66 ERA over 128 2/3 innings during that span.

He’s also a charismatic, outspoken force known for his prolific LEGO building in the corner of the White Sox home clubhouse, not to mention his charitable endeavors with Kristi since they arrived in Chicago. Now, he's also a cancer survivor.

“What lifts my spirit is the fact that he’s cancer-free,” Grifol said. “Has nothing to do with baseball. That was the most important thing for me, for us, for this organization, for every single fan. This is a hell of a lot bigger than baseball.”

“Unbelievable,” Katz said. “A really exciting time just to hear that he’s in a really good spot health-wise and, obviously, from a team perspective, we’re able to know that he’s going to be back.”