White Sox trust closer Liam Hendriks’ self-assessment as rehab stint continues

Hendriks wants to be 100% when he returns, not a “burden” on the Sox.

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Liam Hendriks, seen here last year, is on a rehab stint at Triple-A Charlotte.

AP Photos

When he returns to the White Sox after his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, closer Liam Hendriks wants to be 100%. He might need a little more time to get there.

Hendriks told media Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, that the tentative plan is for him to pitch again Sunday for the Triple-A Knights, then again Tuesday or Wednesday before he and the Sox reassess his next steps. Pitching on a second consecutive day Thursday, Hendriks allowed four runs — including two home runs — in two-thirds of an inning.

‘‘I’m not quite ready,’’ Hendriks said. ‘‘In all honesty, I just don’t want to be a burden upon the team, getting back and then having to be babied a little bit. I want to make sure I’m right before I get fully active and fully back.’’

The Sox will be happy to go along with Hendriks’ self-evaluation. Yes, they want and need him back because their bullpen has struggled without him during their disastrous start. But they have no problem listening to Hendriks months after he was fighting for his life.

‘‘I trust Liam; I think we all do,’’ Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. ‘‘We trust his self-evaluation and the knowledge of his body and how he feels and his arm and what he knows of the big leagues and what level he needs to be at to perform here. We need Liam, but . . . we want him comfortable when he gets here that he knows he could be at his best and help us do some of the things we want to do.’’

Because of his recovery from cancer, Hendriks is obviously behind where he would be at this point of the season. He didn’t have a traditional spring training and essentially is getting ready on the fly against professional hitters instead of on the back fields in Arizona. He also needs to get his body completely back into big-league shape mere weeks after enduring the traumatic and draining experience of chemotherapy.

Knowing that, perhaps it wasn’t surprising that Hendriks experienced a slight bump in the road, one that slowed him down a bit as he tries to get his velocity and command back to the levels that made him one of the best short relievers in the game.

Grifol, however, doesn’t seem disappointed in Hendriks’ frank assessment of his own progress. In fact, he praised Hendriks’ ability to grade himself.

‘‘Self-evaluation is a really big part of this game, and he’s a really good self-evaluator,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘Not only do I appreciate it, I admire it. I think the instinct is always to get back as quickly as possible, and his instinct and his knowledge is, ‘I gotta get back when I’m ready to get back and make sure I’m able to contribute to what we want to accomplish here.’ ’’

Even before he throws his first pitch for the Sox this season, Hendriks already has accomplished plenty. Most important, he has beaten cancer and has been able to resume his career.

He also has made an impact on the people around him.

‘‘It’s awesome being around Liam; it’s just super-inspiring,’’ said third baseman Jake Burger, who was in Charlotte on a rehab stint. ‘‘Every time I see him out there and talk to him in the clubhouse, it’s awesome to talk to him. And the [food] spreads are pretty good down there, too, courtesy of him and [rehabbing reliever Garrett] Crochet. It’s awesome seeing everybody progress.’’

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