Liam Hendriks believes he tore his UCL before his rehab assignment originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Liam Hendriks declares he "always has pain" when he throws at this stage of his career.
But, as he told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien before Thursday's White Sox game, one of the most imperative lessons for any athlete is understanding the difference between pain and injury.
And he asserts he knew about his Tommy John injury before his rehab assignment in May.
"There was no rushing back at all, but I also knew that there was a time when I'm pretty sure it was done before I even started my rehab assignment. But there was no way in hell I wasn't making it back this year."
Hendriks' prolonged rehab was designated to return him to shape after undergoing multiple treatments for cancer. The White Sox closer was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in December.
Directly after his diagnosis, he underwent four different rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments. During treatments, he threw bullpens and remained active with the team during spring training. His last treatment was the day the White Sox opened their season at home on Apr. 3.
In May, he started ramping up his conditioning. He threw "more bullpens than everybody else in the league" and took his time before getting back on the mound. That same month, he started a rehab stint in Arizona before moving to Triple-A Charlotte.
But since May, Hendriks asserts he hasn't thrown a pitch without pain.
"I can tell you that much right now. I already knew that [he tore his UCL]," Hendriks said. "These guys didn't know as much [pointing to the locker room] but, look, it happened. There's no way the pain that I had, even before my rehab assignment, I've got pain all the time, but this was lingering and it stuck around. There was no way I wasn't getting back. I flipped over every stone to make sure I could get back."
Like he did with his hip pain last summer --- that later he learned were lymph nodes from his cancer --- he pushed through it, believing he could pitch through the pain. Unfortunately, after five games and five innings pitched, it was enough.
Hendriks landed on the injured list with an elbow injury before the White Sox announced he would need Tommy John surgery in early August. His projected timeline for return is 12-14 months. Hendriks has no doubt he will return to the mound eventually.
And yet, despite pitching through cancer, cancer treatments and a torn UCL just to make a historic, valiant return to the mound, Hendriks has no regrets about how this past season unfolded.
That's the unwavering, trademark positivity of Liam Hendriks.
"I hold absolutely no regrets about the way it went about," Hendriks said. "I refused to not be back this year I refused to not put my best foot forward for this team."