Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks is getting ready to start his brief rehab assignment with the team's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte this weekend, which will mark the last step before he can make his season debut after a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hendriks, after announcing his diagnosis in January, is currently in remission with “a clean bill of health.”
“I never looked at it as a ‘Why me?’ thing,” Hendriks said Wednesday via ESPN. “I looked at it as a ‘Why not me?’
“I tend to have a more rosy perspective on life than [most people], so that was my process behind it … As soon as I found out the regular treatment timelines, I thought, ‘OK, how can I beat it?’ It was those days on the couch, not being able to move much, those were the days you needed to dig deep and find that positive mental attitude.”
Hendriks was diagnosed with stage-4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January, which is a cancer “that begins in your lymphatic system.” He said Wednesday, however, that he first discovered lumps in his neck and hips last summer.
"There's a damn well chance I pitched all of last year with lymphoma in my system," he said. "I'd like to think that was the reason I struggled to recover at the end of the year. I was damn well limping to the finish line."
The three-time All-Star, who posted a 2.81 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 57⅔ innings last season, then announced in April that he was cancer-free.
Hendriks will begin his stint with the Charlotte Knights this weekend. The plan is for him to make four or five appearances before rejoining the White Sox and making his season debut.
Whenever that time comes, the White Sox will be ready and waiting for him.
“No matter what we do as a team [this season], this is the best news of the year,” starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said.