Liam Hendriks on messages from Jameson Taillon, White Sox, fans
Liam Hendriks on messages from Jameson Taillon, White Sox, fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
One of the biggest motivators that kept Liam Hendriks going through his cancer treatment was messages he received from players and fans.
"I did want to harp on the one thing that's helped me get back this quickly," Hendriks said. "(It) was the amount of people that didn't have my phone number reaching out as either survivors, or players, or anything like that."
One message that struck a chord with Hendriks was a text sent from Cubs' starter Jameson Taillon.
"The biggest message I got – and I want to read it out because I don't want to get it wrong – was from Jameson Taillon," Hendriks said. "And his was 'It's your journey. Nobody can tell you what to feel or what to do baseball-wise. Do whatever you feel is right.'"
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That message came to Hendriks on Jan. 30. Hendriks was supposed to play catch the next day. He ended up throwing a bullpen instead.
"Screw it, I want to push this."
The White Sox closer stressed the only reason he's been able to create an unthinkable return plan with the team is because of his pushing himself to complete bullpens. He attended spring training in Arizona, where he threw multiple bullpens, and has pitched in two minor league games to date.
And he can see the light at the end of the tunnel for overcoming a full recovery and returning to the big leagues, despite a cancer diagnosis that came just five months ago.
The White Sox had his back, too. The team sent messages, delivered him baskets, and merchandise. They also kept things light-hearted and didn't "tip-toe" around the fact that he had cancer. They didn't treat him any differently in the clubhouse than they normally would.
In fact, Hendriks mentioned his absence from the clubhouse was what hurt him the most.
"That was definitely a blow for me. It was tough not being in the clubhouse," Hendriks said.
What's more, early on in Hendriks' treatment, the White Sox set up an online system for fans to send him messages. Hendriks said the team relayed those messages and he received cards and other things from fans wishing for a speedy recovery.
"It was really, really cool," Hendriks said of the messages he received. "Just people reaching out, whether it be on social media, whether it be in card form, whether it be in anything.
"You don't realize how many people have been affected by cancer until it literally affects you."
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