As White Sox ready for season opener, is Hendriks getting close to returning?
For the White Sox, all eyes are on Thursday.
That's when the regular season opens, against the defending World Series champion Astros in Houston.
Thursday is also the day the Sox will likely have an update on all-star closer Liam Hendriks.
In early January, Hendriks announced he was beginning treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back on the mound as soon as possible," Hendriks posted on social media. "I know with the support of my wife, my family, my teammates and the Chicago White Sox organization, along with the treatment and care from my doctors, I will get through this."
There is still no official word on Hendriks' health status, but he's been at the Sox's training camp in Glendale, Ariz., and starting pitcher Lance Lynn did provide some insight last week on A.J. Pierzynski's "Foul Territory" podcast.
"We hope to get him back by June if everything is perfect," Lynn said. "In his mind he'll be back in May. I was like, 'Well, we'll see.' He goes, 'Oh, I'll be ready as soon as they give me the go.'"
Losing Hendriks for any stretch of time is going to hurt, but the White Sox have plenty of candidates who can close games until he returns.
Kendall Graveman was Hendriks' primary setup man last season, but he did have 6 saves to go with a 3.18 ERA.
In 2021, Graveman saved 10 games and had a 0.82 ERA for the Mariners before being traded to the Astros in late July.
"I told (manager) Pedro (Grifol) I couldn't care any less about a stat," Graveman said. "I want to win baseball games. At the end of the day, whenever Pedro tells me to go pitch, I'll go pitch. We'll try to hold it down the best we can until we get one of the best in the league back out there with us."
Joe Kelly had some injury issues last season, his first with the White Sox. But the veteran righty has a power arm and he saved 2 games for the Red Sox in 2018 and 2 games for the Dodgers in 2021.
Former starter Reynaldo Lopez is another closer option. In 61 appearances last season, he was 6-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 65⅓ innings.
Along with Hendriks, the Sox's bullpen is going to be missing Garrett Crochet early in the season.
Almost fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Crochet recently started throwing live batting practice in spring training and he's expected to rejoin the White Sox in late May after sitting out all of last year.
Fellow left-hander Aaron Bummer was held back at the start of camp with lat soreness, but he's rounding into form late and should be in the Sox's bullpen for the season opener.