White Sox closer Liam Hendriks to fans: ‘Sorry, we didn’t want this to happen’
Hendriks was among the locked-out players who were working out at the players’ union camp Tuesday.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox closer Liam Hendriks threw a bullpen session at the Major League Baseball Players Association’s camp Tuesday in Mesa, Arizona, looking as fit as ever and sounding as loud, feisty and vulgar as usual.
Afterward, he apologized to baseball fans and workers affected adversely by the lockout that moved into the evening hours of its 97th day, albeit with some progress bringing management and the union closer to a deal that would get spring training started and presumably keep a 162-game season intact.
On March 1, Major League Baseball canceled the first two series of the season and said it planned to cancel more regular-season games if a deal on a new collective-bargaining agreement couldn’t be reached Tuesday.
‘‘Sorry,’’ Hendriks said when he was asked what his message to workers and fans would be. ‘‘We didn’t want this to happen. We didn’t strike. As a group, we apologize. We want to make sure we get on the field as soon as possible and get this thing done.’’
Hendriks began throwing bullpen sessions in November and has thrown five or six live batting practices, he said, at junior colleges and various sites around Phoenix to stay in shape. He is an alternate player representative to Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito. A Sox group chat of ‘‘eight or 10 guys’’ has been keeping the 40-man roster informed.
‘‘We’ve got guys who’ve been around awhile, like me and [right-hander] Lance [Lynn], and the arbitration-[eligible] guys, like Giolito, and the zero-to-three guys, like [reliever Aaron] Bummer, so we’re making sure we’re taking care of everyone’s issues, not only the high-paid guys. . . . We’re well-versed on the information that is coming in. Making sure everyone is heard is important.’’
While Hendriks and other Sox on the 40-man roster worked out in what should have been the third week of spring training, Sox minor-leaguers trained in Glendale with minor-league staff. Manager Tony La Russa, in plain clothes, is also in camp and keeping a close eye on the prospects.
Around camp, there isn’t much lockout talk. Cautious optimism is the general mood.
‘‘Every day is obviously critical,’’ Hendriks said. ‘‘We’re trying to get to a point where we can play a full season. But we’re not fighting for everything happening today; we’re fighting for things happening five years from now, for guys who haven’t even been drafted yet.’’
Players have been unified, he said.
‘‘With the White Sox, it’s been pretty much unanimous around the board what we’re looking for, and it hasn’t broken people’s spirits,’’ Hendriks said. ‘‘We’re ready to dig in for what is fair and get back and be as competitive as we can be on the field.’’
Talks seemed to intensify as the day went on, but it wasn’t clear whether they would lead to an accord or the latest breakdown in negotiations.
‘‘It’s been frustrating from a player’s point of view,’’ Hendriks said. ‘‘We’re all working for the same goal: to make this game as competitive and fun for fans as we can going forward. I don’t understand how it’s taken so long to get to where we’re close and certain things are thrown in at the end to beat us.
‘‘I think [Blue Jays right-hander] Ross Stripling said it best: ‘We’re being treated as those dumb jocks.’ ’’
Contributing: Maddie Lee