Liam Hendriks believes there are many ways for White Sox to improve

More experience, getting pushed harder in the regular season and getting better defensively would help the White Sox get closer to their World Series goal, the reliever said.

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White Sox closer Liam Hendriks knows the team can be better in 2022.

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks knows the team can be better in 2022.

Carlos Osorio/AP

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Having the American League Reliever of the Year in Liam Hendriks was nice and all, but it wasn’t enough to help the White Sox win the World Series, which, talent-wise, they were capable of, Hendriks said Thursday.

Echoing what teammates and management already have said, the Astros had the upper hand on the Sox in the AL Division Series because of experience, which Hendriks would like to see added to the roster this offseason. He also wouldn’t mind seeing the Sox — as Hendriks pointed out, they were ranked as the worst fielding team in the playoffs — get better defensively.

“Our offense was great, our pitching was great the entire season,” Hendriks said. “The one area — defense — is the one, that motto says, that wins championships.

“A lot of the guys over the course of the year got depicted in a poor light defensively. We’re a lot better defensively as a team than what was depicted in the standings or stats. But, yes, making a couple of adjustments there and then bringing some guys in that are more glove-first guys, that I think can make a huge difference down the stretch.”

The Sox won the AL Central by 13 games, raising the question of whether being more battle-tested during the season would have prepared them better for the postseason. Hendriks stressed throughout the season the importance of maintaining an edge.

“Hopefully some of the other teams in the division are able to kind of bring that level of competitiveness that the Tigers brought the last few months, [like] every game against the Twins was a tough game,” Hendriks said. “So hopefully it’s a bit of a stronger division, which I predict, as well, and that will help to push that drive through the course of the season, so we don’t get complacent, we don’t get lackadaisical and we’re able to kind of drive and grind through the entire season rather than kind of taking our foot off the gas a little bit.”

Lacking experience, the Sox “tried to do too much” in the ALDS, Hendriks said.

One teammate who had experience was fellow closer Craig Kimbrel, who assumed a setup role with the Sox but struggled. Hendriks said he hopes Kimbrel, who is on the trading block, returns.

“No doubt, the caliber of athlete and person he is, he’ll bounce back and hopefully he’s with us, and we can create that dynamic that we shorten the game a little bit,” Hendriks said.

Hendriks also was AL Reliever of the Year with the Athletics in 2020.

“It’s nice to have the personal accomplishment [of being the first pitcher to win the AL honor in consecutive seasons],” he said. “But now we have to work toward the offseason and hopefully put together a good bullpen for the White Sox and get that ring.”

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