Liam Hendriks of the White Sox looks on before a game at Yankee Stadium on June 8, 2023. (Getty Images)
DETROIT – Liam Hendriks stopped by Jerry Reinsdorf to pay a visit.
For one thing, Hendriks wanted to reach out after the chairman made a difficult decision to fire Ken Williams and Rick Hahn. So they sat and talked for a couple of hours, Hendriks said.
“About animals, about both of us living in Chicago and Arizona, things like that,” Hendriks said.
For another, the matter of Hendriks’ option for 2024 has to be resolved, although the former Relief Pitcher of the Year said that wasn’t the reason for the chat. If it wasn’t discussed, it will be later.
“I know that Kenny and Rick were very, very close to him so it was more of a ‘how are you doing?’ ’’ Hendriks told the Sun-Times. “It’s a tough time, and I wanted to make sure I’m there for these guys and know he knows we know it wasn’t an easy decision.”
Reinsdorf said this “absolutely awful” season has been his worst with the Sox. To say it’s been dreadful for Hendriks would be an understatement. The 34-year-old from Perth, Australia battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year, returned to pitch this season and then had Tommy John surgery.
As bad years go, Reinsdorf has nothing on Hendriks.
“Cancer and TJ, it’s not the best scenario,” Hendriks said. “But better than having one in one year and another the next. Better to have it all done in the same year.”
Signed to a four-year, $54 million contract as one of the premier closers in the game, Hendriks’ upcoming fourth comes with a $15 million option for 2024. If the Sox decline, they will pay Hendriks $1.5 million for the next 10 years.
Hendriks wouldn’t be ready to pitch until late August or early September, but the Sox could decline the option, sign him to a minor league deal and allow him to rehab with them. They have till November to decide.
“If anybody can come back and perform after this surgery it’s him,” manager Pedro Grifol said.
Hendriks is traveling with the team now because Grifol welcomes his influence around an inexperienced group of pitchers.
“It’s the White Sox’ decision what to do with my option,” Hendriks said. “I’ve been very vocal to them about wanting to stick around. But it’s their prerogative. The ball is in their court, there’s nothing I can do and we just play it by ear and see what happens.
“As soon as the season is over, I’ll head to Arizona to use the facility [as Reinsdorf encouraged him to do] there to continue the rehab as they decide on the options, maybe before that hopefully. It’s a bit of an interesting concept because it’s a new guy with [general manager] Chris [Getz]. I don’t envy Getzy’s first rule of business deciding on Tim [Anderson’s] and my options.”
Hendriks said having fellow veteran work horse reliever Bryan Shaw in the clubhouse has been good for him during his recovery process.
“Bryan does what he does, comes to the field and [exemplifies] the setting we’re tyring to build: Just be on time and be available,” Hendriks said. “That’ all you need to focus on.”
As for clubhouse problems publicly pointed out by since-departed reliever Keynan Middleton, Hendriks’ take-it-in-stride perspective stems from everything he’s been through.
“The big thing is, if anything goes wrong you say it to their face, rather than blasting it,” Hendriks said.
“There are different views. I’ve always stressed positivity. You can find silver linings in everything rather than focusing on the negatives. There were two sides pulling in the same area, but in different ways but not coinciding in the way it worked. Unfortunately it is what it is, but we’re in a good place moving forward. Guys with the same positive mind who understand you get to play a game for a living.”
SOX AT TIGERS
Friday: Mike Clevinger (6-7, 3.90 ERA) vs. Reese Olson (3-6, 4.65), 5:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM
Saturday: TBA vs. Tarik Skubal (4-3, 3.77), 5:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM
Sunday: Jesse Scholtens (1-7, 4.38) vs. TBA, 12:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM