White Sox’ Liam Hendriks expected to start minor-league rehab assignment this weekend

“He should be back here in the near future,” manager Pedro Grifol said.

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White Sox closer Liam Hendriks is working his way back after treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend.

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks is working his way back after treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Liam Hendriks, looking strong and fit in the White Sox’ clubhouse Tuesday, will take another big step in his recovery from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he goes on a minor-league rehab assignment likely this weekend.

Hendriks has been pitching in minor-league games in Arizona. A news conference planned for Wednesday will afford the two-time American League Reliever of the Year to speak publicly for the first time since he was diagnosed with cancer.

“I saw him, and I was like, ‘Thank you, God, for pulling him and his family through this,’ ’’ manager Pedro Grifol said. “This is a life matter. This isn’t a baseball thing. Just watching him be healthy and strong and a smile on his face and be here where he loves to be, it just makes anybody’s day.”

The Sox badly need an emotional lift of any sort. They can also use help in their struggling bullpen.

“He should be back here in the near future,” Grifol said.

More for Sheets

With Oscar Colas demoted to Triple-A Charlotte, the left-handed-hitting Gavin Sheets, a converted first baseman, figures to get more time in right field. Grifol also mentioned designated hitter Eloy Jimenez, Adam Haseley and Billy Hamilton as options, although Hamilton’s primary role figures to be pinch-running and late-inning defense.

“Absolutely,” Sheets said about being ready to take on more time in right field. “Trying to get back out there and get as many reps as possible and try to take over that spot again.”

“This is going to be a nice window for Sheets to show what he can do,” Grifol said.

Billy’s back

Grifol said Hamilton arrives at “a perfect time,” and Sheets concurred.

“Getting a presence like Tim [Anderson] back — first off, the player that he is — getting his personality in the clubhouse, bringing some life, and getting a guy like Billy Hamilton, it’s what we need in this clubhouse right now,” Sheets said. “We need that energy.”

“It’s lovely, man,” Hamilton said. “When they told me yesterday, I was so excited. Felt like it was my first time here again.”

Lopez rests

Reynaldo Lopez, who left the game Sunday with biceps fatigue, won’t throw for a day or two, Grifol said.

“He feels good; we’re anticipating that he’s going to feel OK,” Grifol said. “We have to wait until he actually picks up the ball and does his thing. We’re optimistic.”

Robert not unprofessional

Grifol defended Luis Robert Jr., whom he pulled for not running hard Saturday. Robert later said he had tightness in his right hamstring.

“The only thing that wasn’t what we’re about was the communication part,” Grifol said when asked if Robert’s actions were unprofessional. “That was the reason he got pulled. Because we didn’t know what he was feeling, how he was feeling. So he wasn’t able to meet our expectations on how we run down the line and how we do things. But unprofessional, that’s not the right term.”

This and that

Left fielder Andrew Benintendi took a home run away from Carlos Correa with a leaping catch in the first inning.

† The Sox’ May schedule is the third-easiest in the majors, according to team records. They had the toughest schedule in April.

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