Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks could make his season debut as early as Monday, following an offseason battle with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Hendriks was diagnosed in January and underwent his final round of chemotherapy in early April.
The 34-year-old Hendriks has pitched in 471 Major League games throughout his career and was one of the top closers in baseball over the past two seasons with the White Sox. He recorded 75 saves during the 2021 and 2022 seasons and was also an All-Star with the Oakland Athletics during the 2019 season.
White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said on Thursday he does not anticipate Hendriks appearing in a game this weekend, with Monday being far more likely.
He is expected to throw a live batting practice with teammates on Friday and the team will see where he is at that point.
He began a rehab assignment in Triple-A earlier this month, posting a 10.80 ERA in his six appearances.
The fact that Hendrik is so close to returning at any point is a victory in itself. There was no guarantee that Hendriks would be able to pitch it all this season, and the fact he is returning in May is a major accomplishment.
Hendriks joins a lengthy list of athletes that have been able to return from cancer diagnoses in their careers, including Mario Lemieux, Jon Lester and NHL ironman Phil Kessel. Lemieux and Lester were also able to return from battles with non-Hodkin’s lymphoma. Lemieux famously made his return to the NHL during the 1993 season on the very same day he received his final treatment.