On January 8th Liam Hendriks shocked the baseball world by announcing he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hendriks, who has consistently ranked among the game’s top, relievers, will now face his most formidable opponent yet.
Hendriks has always been one of the more unique personalities in baseball, doing everything from building legos in the clubhouse to unleashing primal screams on the mound on the mound. He is not afraid to speak his mind or swear on national television. You will be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining pitcher. His on-field talent is matched by his generosity off of it, which is why it was so devasting to hear that Hendriks had been hit with cancer.
The amount of support that he has received is overwhelming. Messages have flooded in from fans, teammates, and opposing teams. This included the White Sox’s cross-town rival, the Chicago Cubs.
During the Cubs Convention this past weekend, Hendriks’s former teammates Cody Heuer and Nick Madrigal discussed the impact that Hendriks made on them during their short stints on the South Side.
“We have had dinners with them in the offseason, and they are definitely in our prayers every night,” Madrigal said. “He’s as strong as they come. Something like this is not going to knock him down at all.
“I’m sure he’s in good spirits. I know a lot of people are rooting for him, not only the South Side but the North Side and all over baseball. He posted something the other day, and there were so many people commenting from all over the country.”
Cody Heuer, who got to work closely with Hendriks on a daily basis in the bullpen, made sure to absorb as much knowledge as he could from the 2021 AL Reliever of the Year.
“Every day, he brings the energy. He was never sad. That’s what stood out for me,” Heuer said. “When he walked out in the fifth inning to the bullpen, he was always bringing great energy. That’s all you can really ask.
“I was trying to get underneath his wing as much as possible. He is such a great dude, and he’s very accepting of that. I tried to learn from him as much as possible, and I still do. He’s always trying to help new guys get their feel. He’s very selfless. Love Big Liam and hope he’s doing well.”
The pair was traded in a package deal that sent future Hall of Famer Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox on July 30th, 2021. Despite getting shipped across town, Madrigal and his girlfriend remain close friends with Hendriks and his wife, Kristi.
Even Jameson Tallion, who recently signed a $68 million contract with the Cubs this offseason, took time to offer Hendriks some words of encouragement.
“I only know him from, like, playing catch, and he’s long tossing 500 feet. I definitely don’t know him, but I would like to talk with him for sure,” Taillon said. “I got some good advice from Chad Bettis, and the advice was there is no playbook for this. If you want to step away and get away, you are more than entitled to do that.
“If you want to play catch the day after you get treatment and get your bloodwork and all that, go ahead and do it. So there’s no playbook, no script, everyone is different. I had testicular cancer. We caught it early. I was able to return pretty quickly. Looking back, maybe I returned too quickly and kind of burned out a little bit at some point. But there’s just no script for it.”
Talion’s words carry some extra weight. In 2017 he had his left testicle removed because of testicular cancer but returned to the mound to pitch just five weeks after the surgery. The baseball fraternity is a tight-knit group full of cancer survivors such as Tallion.
It would have been nice to hear what Hendrik’s current teammates had to say, but of course, the White Sox were one of the few teams who canceled their fan convention. For the time being, we will have to settle for the words of encourgament from the North Side of town.