Liam Hendriks 'doesn't plan on regressing' upon return to White Sox

Liam Hendriks 'doesn't plan on regressing' upon return originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Liam Hendriks doesn't plan on taking steps back on the mound because of his fight with cancer.

For him, a walk or a hit allowed will be the same when he returns to the major league level as it would've been before his diagnosis.

"I don't plan on regressing," Hendriks told the media on Wednesday. "That's been my mindset. There's no taking it easy. If I go out there and I give up a hit, I'm still gonna be pissed. If I go out there and walk somebody, I'm still gonna be pissed.

"It's gonna be the same mentality that I have and it's the only way I've been able to do what I've done in the last couple years is by having that mindset."

RELATED: Liam Hendriks details specific timeline of his cancer

Make no mistake, Hendriks has been through the wringer with cancer.

He told the media he was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma in December, before he announced his diagnosis in early January. He described the diagnosis as a "shock to the system," despite his suspicion of having cancer before his official diagnosis.

Hendriks mentioned his discovery of lymph nodes in his neck back in June, but a negative blood test proved no cause for concern then, even though it's likely the cancer was developing.

The White Sox closer started treatments a day after he announced his diagnosis publicly. He went through four rounds of treatment that came on back-to-back days over the course of months. The last round of treatment came on Apr. 3, Opening Day around MLB.

Hendriks described the treatments as one of the toughest parts of the experience. He said the first and third treatments were the hardest. They left him feeling "catatonic," as he lounged on the couch feeling somewhat lifeless.

But if you know Liam Hendriks, you know he has arguably the strongest mental fortitude of any person on the planet. Listening to him describe the treatment process and five-month experience having cancer, he made it sound somewhat like a breeze.

Somehow, someway, he turned his cancer diagnosis into a positive thing from the get-go.

"I never self-involved and looked into it as a 'Why me?' thing. I looked at it as a 'Why not me?'" Hendriks said. "I tend to have a bit of a rosier perspective on life. So that was my process behind it. Like look, I've got this, this is my next challenge. And we started looking into ways we can make good of this."

And for that reason, Hendriks doesn't expect any less of himself from the times upon his future return to the mound in the big leagues.

He expects to be the same closer who earned two All-Star nods in back-to-back seasons over the 2021-22 seasons. The same pitcher who earned AL Reliever of the Year in 2021 and led MLB in saves that season.

Last season, Hendriks held a 2.81 ERA from the bump in 58 games and 57.2 innings pitched. He struck out a whopping 85 batters in contrast to walking 16 of them. Hendriks expects to be the same lockdown closer he's been with the White Sox, which the club could use at this point.

"There are extremely high expectations," Hendriks said. "It's not gonna change because 'Oh, I've been through this so I'm allowed to give up a hit.' There's gonna be none of that. It's gonna be 'I'm going out there to do a job. My job is to get this done. If I don't do it I'm gonna be mad.' And that's something that I think has come through the last few years that there's no give or take.

"As soon as I get back, I'm meant to be in mid-season form and that's what I'm gonna be doing."

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