Hendriks (elbow inflammation) placed on 15-day IL

June 11th, 2023

CHICAGO -- The White Sox bullpen is equipped to handle the temporary loss of , who was placed on the 15-day injured list Sunday (retroactive to Saturday) with right elbow inflammation.

That fact certainly holds true despite Keynan Middleton and Kendall Graveman yielding five runs in the eighth and ninth innings in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, erasing a 5-1 White Sox lead.

Since May 13, Chicago relievers have a 2.66 ERA with a .178 opponents' average in 27 games, despite suffering a second straight heartbreaking loss in the ninth. But it goes without saying that the White Sox prefer to have their closer and inspirational leader who has fought his way back from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a late-inning option.

“We're better prepared; we're not better,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “Obviously losing Liam can hurt any bullpen.

“But we are better prepared than if it happened just out of the blue. I trust our guys that we have back there. They've been pitching great baseball. They've been pitching in different roles. We've just got to keep moving forward."

Hendriks has a 2-0 record with a 5.40 ERA and one save since his return on May 29. Two appearances ago, against New York at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, his fastball topped 96 mph. But there was a velocity drop on Friday when he pitched a scoreless ninth and got the win against the Marlins.

Upon his arrival at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, Hendriks told Grifol he was good to go after missing Thursday’s doubleheader due to the dangerous air quality in the Bronx, caused by smog from Canadian wildfires. Grifol also asked Hendriks how he was doing after that 14-pitch appearance Friday, and the always competitive Hendriks said, "Eh, we'll see tomorrow," according to Grifol.

“If you know Liam, he never says that,” Grifol said. “He's always available, he's always doing his thing and he always wants to pitch. So once he said that, it was kind of a little bit of a red flag. Then obviously I spoke to our trainers, and they said, ‘We'll see how this plays out and we'll evaluate him the next day and see how it goes.’ So he got evaluated and here we are.”

“I'm disappointed for him just because of how much he has fought through and what he's personally been through to get himself back to this level,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “I feel for him the person first. Secondly, yeah, it's disappointing to lose a potential weapon for the back end of our bullpen for some sort of period of time. That said, we feel a lot of confidence in the other options we have down there.”

Further evaluation on Hendriks was taking place Sunday with the White Sox doctors, as Hahn added a more pinpointed diagnosis might not be known until Tuesday. Hahn compared this current issue to a 2022 flexor strain in Hendriks’ right forearm that sidelined him from June 11 to July 3.

“It’s too early to put it on the flexor,” Hahn said. “Last year the strain involved the ligament as well. It’s just a matter of how does it present, how do you treat it and how do you get him back if we look at all the different treatment options and figure out what’s best. Again, the symptoms are very similar to what we had last year. But not ready to say it’s a flexor strain until we can read a MRI.”

“Obviously he's a big part of our team, big part of our bullpen,” Grifol said. “It's unfortunate, especially how he got through what he got through. It impacts us as a club emotionally, it impacts our roster, but again, we got to continue to move forward and hopefully he can recover from this. That's all we can do at this point.”

Middleton carried a 14-game scoreless streak into Sunday afternoon before allowing a home run apiece to Jorge Soler and Garrett Cooper in the eighth. Graveman’s streak covered 16 games before he entered in the ninth, with hitters going 3-for-50 against him during that span.

Miami scored three runs on two hits, one walk and an unfortunate catcher’s interference call against Seby Zavala, the first of his career, in the ninth. So it was just one of those days when the mound execution has a rare miss for two of the team’s key bullpen components.

“We’ve done some good things this year, [me and him], but today nobody feels worse than [us],” Graveman said. “I know that to be fact. We both feel like we could have been better and helped the team win.

“I’m thankful we went on that run. Now we have to start a new one.”