White Sox closer Liam Hendriks still dealing with back issue

Hendriks says the White Sox must stay “cocky, arrogant, confident.”

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Liam Hendriks pitches against the Twins in Minnesota.

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks has been dealing with a back issue.

David Berding/Getty Images

What’s another minor physical issue when so many are major with the White Sox?

When it’s the closer, a little thing is a little more than that.

“We’re going to be careful with him,” manager Tony La Russa said.

Turns out Liam Hendriks served up that walk-off home run to Byron Buxton in Minnesota on Sunday after tweaking his back in the clubhouse, and he hasn’t been available since, not that he was needed during a day off Monday and a 6-0 loss to the Royals on Tuesday, the Sox’ eighth defeat in a row.

In the Sox’ 7-3 victory against the Royals that ended the skid, Kendall Graveman pitched two perfect innings with four strikeouts for his first save.

“Between the ninth and 10th [innings Sunday], I don’t know what happened,” Hendriks said Wednesday. “I went to grab a towel and walked slowly on the tile in cleats and just couldn’t stand up right after that. They tried to take me out, and I just kept telling them no. Probably in hindsight, it would’ve been a good thing. But my stubborn [butt] is going back out there no matter what.”

And pitching to Buxton no matter what, even with first base open.

“Don’t ever put anyone on when I’m on the mound,” Hendriks said.

“He’s got all the talent in the world. But I’ve been able to beat him on pitches in similar locations before in my career [Buxton was 0-for-2 against Hendriks], and I know that I trust my stuff no matter what. I’m never thinking about putting somebody on base or pitching scared because that’s when you get into trouble.”

Hendriks was able to humbly recognize the bigness of the 469-foot blast but liked his chances knowing Buxton, who struck out three times earlier against Lucas Giolito and homered against Aaron Bummer, is a free swinger. In hindsight, a slider would have been a better option instead of a fastball.

“If I get it into a better location, he doesn’t do that much damage with it,” Hendriks said. “And then I have a chance of facing [Luis] Arraez, a guy I’ve always had tough at-bats with. I’m not trying to put a guy on for a contact guy with the winning run on second base.”

Robert still out

Center fielder Luis Robert (groin) still had discomfort when moving laterally, so his return was delayed another day.

“He’s stepping up the workout every day,” La Russa said. “When he can do everything without any discomfort, that’s when he’s green-lighted, as far as I’m concerned.”

Moncada, Kelly to Charlotte

Third baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handed reliever Joe Kelly will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

A switch hitter, Moncada still feels something slight in his oblique when he swings from the left side, but it’s minor enough for him to test it. Kelly will need at least three appearances before he joins the Sox, La Russa said.

“In [Moncada’s] case, he’s been swinging really well here, so he may come out there and just [have] 15 at-bats and look like he’s ready,” La Russa said. “But it may take him 25, no way to predict it.”

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