White Sox’ Liam Hendriks a stone’s throw away from being ready for opener

Back after missing time because of a kidney stone, Hendriks strikes out the side against the Brewers.

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Liam Hendriks throws on the backfields at White Sox spring training. (John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times)

PHOENIX — White Sox closer Liam Hendriks had one word to describe passing a kidney stone.

“Excruciating,” he said.

“Anybody thinking about having kidney stones, I highly recommend against it.”

On the other side of it and pitching for the first time in nine days because of it, Hendriks seemed none the worse for wear, though, fanning all three Brewers he faced and pulling it off with what he calls “a natural hat trick — strikeouts with the fastball, slider and curveball.”

Vocal in good times and bad, Hendriks let an expletive fly when he threw a slider in the dirt to Orlando Arcia. The crowd reacted with a collective ‘‘whoa,” and Hendriks responded with an over-the-shoulder wave after he struck out Arcia.

“That’s the stuff that really helps me get locked in, those random little outbursts where I get the crowd yelling back a little bit,” Hendriks said. “And then I get kind of locked in a little bit more because I need to make sure I don’t just do this and then suck. If you do anything that’s a little bit too out there, you need to make sure that you back it up with whatever you do on the field.”

Hendriks consumes Dr. Pepper and coffee in high quantities, so to guard against more issues, he’ll “chase with water” and not of the carbonated variety, he said, “so this doesn’t happen again.”

Hendriks said he’ll pitch Sunday, and “we’re ready for the season.”

Collins confident as opener nears

Catcher Zack Collins, who had been pushing for the backup catcher’s job, tightened his grip on a roster spot with Eloy Jimenez’s injury, especially if designated hitter Andrew Vaughn proves he can play left field. Collins’ left-handed bat — which produced its third homer of the spring and second opposite-field poke in two days Friday — might fit well in a right-handed-heavy lineup in the DH slot.

“Eloy is one of our top bats; you never want to lose a guy like that,” Collins said Friday. “But my job isn’t to fill his shoes; my job is to go out there and do as best I can and try to help the team win every way I possibly can.”

Collins is batting .333 with six RBI. The 2016 first-round draft pick is a career .167/.286/.314 hitter in 36 games but hasn’t been afforded consistent playing time.

“I would hope that I’ve earned a spot on the roster, but I’m going to go out there and do anything that they ask me, whether that’s being [Yasmani Grandal’s] backup every whatever day that they throw me out there or being a DH, going to first base sometimes,” Collins said.

“Obviously, I would like to know here pretty soon whether I’ve made the team, but I’m just doing the best I can, and that’s pretty much it.”


Rodon on point again

Carlos Rodon gave up a solo home run to Keston Hiura — the first run against him this spring — in the first inning and was charged with another run after he exited in the fifth but was very good again, striking out six and walking one in his last Cactus League start. With a runner on third and one out in the fourth, Rodon threw fastballs at 97 and 98 mph on the second and third strikes against Tyrone Taylor before getting the third out on a ground ball.

Rodon (1.32 ERA) struck out 16 batters and walked one in 13 1⁄3 innings for the Sox (10-11-5), who are 9-3-2 in their last 14 spring games.

Moncada, Collins go deep

After fouling a pitch off his leg that put him on his hands and knees, cleanup man Yoan Moncada hit a monster home run to right field, his first of the spring, on the 10th pitch of an at-bat against Eric Yardley. Moncada hobbled around the bases and exited the game but is fine. He extended his on-base streak to 16 games and has six doubles. Zack Collins also homered, his third of the spring and second in as many games.

Alternate-site games with Cubs

The alternate site is set for Wintrust Field in Schaumburg, where the Sox set up shop last year. A 13-game schedule is set with games against the Brewers and Cubs against their alternate-site squads, including one against the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field when the Sox are on the road, according to assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz.

First impressions

Getz said top Cuban outfield prospect Yoelqui Cespedes and right-handers Caleb Freeman, Jared Kelley, Andrew Dalquist and Matt Thompson have impressed during the team’s minor-league minicamp in Glendale.

On deck

Sox at Rockies, 3:10 p.m. Saturday, Scottsdale, MLB, Lucas Giolito vs. German Marquez.

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