Pedro Grifol: Liam Hendrik’s journey unbelievable

Eloy Jimenez hits an RBI double in the sixth inning Saturday against the Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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The impending return of closer Liam Hendriks will make life less stressful for White Sox manager Pedro Grifol.

“From a personal standpoint, managing an eight-inning ballgame is a hell of a lot easier than managing a nine-inning game,” Grifol said Saturday, one night after Hendriks struck out four in an extended spring game in Arizona.

Grifol thought Hendriks’ journey since being diagnosed last winter with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was more “unbelievable” than striking out four in his first appearance since the end of the 2022 season.

“How somebody can go through what they’re going through, have the [chemotherapy] treatments and get out there in spring training and throw 35- to 40-pitch bullpens, that’s unbelievable to me,” Grifol said. ‘‘And the way he walked around and had a smile on his face, you don’t see that too often.

“I’ve said it in the last few days: This is a hell of a lot greater than baseball, but there’s a reason why he pitches the ninth inning.”

Mission for Moncada

Switch-hitting third baseman Yoan Moncada is “trending in a really good direction” as he recovers from a protruding disk in his lower back, Grifol said.

“His left-handed swing is feeling really, really good,” Grifol said. “His right-handed swing is a little bit behind. But he did a full day’s work [Friday]. He ran, hit on the field, put some balls in the seats. He’s feeling pretty good, which was a really good sign.”

Moncada did fielding drills and running drills under the supervision of head trainer James Kruk before the game Saturday, and Grifol was informed that Moncada’s chances of returning will increase with more work.

“All we got to do is get that running intensity just a little higher, which he’s going to, and keep working on that right-handed swing,” Grifol said.

Moncada hasn’t played since April 9.

Benintendi elbowed out of lineup

The bruise on Andrew Benintendi’s right elbow was too painful for him to start Saturday night. He was struck by a pitch thrown by Rays closer Pete Fairbanks in the ninth inning of the Sox’ 3-2 loss Friday.

X-rays were negative, and Grifol wouldn’t rule out a return by Benintendi on Sunday, even with Monday’s scheduled day off looming as another opportunity to give the bruise extra time to heal.

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