DETROIT — Liam Hendriks said he’s not going to let a forearm flexor strain keep him down. Hendriks revealed on Wednesday, a day after going on the injured list, that he has had a torn UCL since 2008.
Forearm strains often raise red flags. They can be a precursor of more serious problems, including the need for Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL. But Hendriks said he is “not concerned with it long term at all.”
“There’s been no change in my ligament, and that’s the good thing,” Hendriks said. “That was one of the relieving parts of it.”
It was somewhat alarming to hear Hendriks speaking on what he has been dealing with all these years while still throwing mid-to-upper 90-mph hard stuff. But he won’t be throwing at all for at least two weeks.
“I’ve had a tear in my UCL since ’08,” he said. “It’s been there, that’s been manageable. I’ve been able to deal with it. But over the course of this year, my elbow has been constantly inflamed a little more than usual.
“The ligament hasn’t changed, nothing has changed on any other end that way, so it’s a mild strain. Hopefully get back out there.”
On Tuesday, general manager Rick Hahn said Hendriks would be out three weeks, but a specific target could be known in the next several days.
Hendriks said he’s targeting July 1 to return.
Hendriks, who is from Australia, played his first season of professional ball in the Twins’ system in 2007. He missed all of 2008, returned in 2009 and made his major-league debut with the Twins in 2011. He said he has pitched through pain to varying degrees since.
“It’s the same with any injury. If you can tolerate it, you can pitch,” Hendriks said. “So it’s been one thing I’ve been tolerating, dealing with ever since then.”
The American League Reliever of the Year the last two seasons, Hendriks has always taken pride in being available, pitching on consecutive days and multiple innings if necessary regardless of discomfort. In his last outing Friday against the Rangers, “It was the most pain I’ve been in on the mound in 15 years. But I wasn’t coming out of the game no matter what. You had to rip the ball out of my hands.
“It’s all a pain-threshold thing. I know guys that have had a very minute tear that needed surgery. Know guys that have fully torn theirs and pitched for five, six years after it’s been fully torn. It’s a matter of how you deal with everything.”