Liam Hendriks made his MLB comeback this week after beating Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was met with open arms, loving cheers, and standing ovations as he made his return to the field.
Liam Hendriks made his return to MLB this week after beating Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to Jeff Passan’s ESPN story on Hendriks, Andrew Vaughn visited Hendriks during his treatment, and at the time, Hendriks pulled out his phone to point at the month of May, claiming that that’s when he intended to come back.
Within five months Hendriks was able to beat the cancer, and immediately started to plan his return and build up his strength after four rounds of chemotherapy.
“Yeah, it was great being back out there. Getting back, putting cleats on, running out, doing all that. I felt good, I felt strong, I felt comfortable out there,” said Hendriks during his postgame press conference.
“Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to get the two-strike pitch where I wanted to. It was get ahead, generally, and then struggle to put them away. There were some positives from a purely baseball aspect, but there were definitely some things to work on. Get back, be available and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Hendriks ran onto the field and was met with an immediate standing ovation from fans who have grown to love the White Sox player, and knew just how badly he wanted to get back to playing the game he loves. In his first pitch back, he threw a strike to Matt Thaiss, who stepped out of the batter’s box to let Hendriks have some time to soak in the moment.
“That was a huge sign of respect,” said Hendriks.
“For everything he went through, battled back, and to get out onto the field, it’s a huge accomplishment for him. I think everyone here is extremely excited for him too,” said Thaiss.
“What he’s done has motivated everybody. We know who Liam is as a person. And he sets high standards for himself,” said White Sox starting and losing pitcher Michael Kopech.
“He treated this the same way, attacked it head on and came back and was able to get back to the mound faster than a lot of people probably would. It’s nothing but good vibes in the clubhouse from there.”
Hendriks received multiple standing ovations throughout the evening, especially when he was joined by his wife, Kristi, as they presented a check to the Lymphoma Research Foundation for more than $100,000. The money was raised through the White Sox team who sold “Close Out Cancer” T-Shirts in support of Hendriks fight.
Team Manager Pedro Grifol stated that the team would be evaluating Hendriks performance to see if he’s ready to return to the closer role. His inspiring fight and stellar performance will likely lead to his full return.
“I’ll never be OK with mediocrity. I’ll never be OK with not being at the back end of the bullpen. But in saying that, I need to earn it. I don’t want handouts. I need to work.
Our guys have been throwing well out there. At the end of the day, that’s mine. But as I said, I need to earn it. There’s no freebies. I will get there, and I will earn it myself,” Hendriks exclaimed.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.