White Sox’ Liam Hendriks ‘in good spirits’ but no timeline for return

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Closer Liam Hendriks has been checking in at the White Sox training complex in recent weeks, is doing some baseball work and is in “very good spirits” while undergoing treatment for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, general manager Rick Hahn said.

Hendriks is progressing but the Sox won’t have an update on his status until closer to Opening Day.

“I want to reiterate and respect Liam’s wishes that Liam likely won’t be available publicly until closer to Opening Day once we have a little more firm understanding of what lies ahead for him,” Hahn said on the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training Wednesday. “However, he is here on a fairly regular basis doing work, he’s in good spirits. Feel free to say hi to him when you see him in the coming weeks.”

The Sox closer options in Hendriks’ absence include Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo Lopez, or mix-and-match possibilities with those two plus Joe Kelly and Aaron Bummer.

“It’s a little too early to really get into specifics on that,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “The good thing is we have a number of guys who have pitched late leverage (and) the makeup of this bullpen is we have experience we feel can pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.”

Left-hander Garrett Crochet should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and available by mid-May.

Early birds

Every pitcher and catcher was on time, and there are no visa issues with any foreign players, Hahn said. Position players are not required to report till Monday but Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, Yoan Moncada, Billy Hamilton and third base prospect Bryan Ramos are already in camp.

Moncada is playing for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic this spring and took live batting practice against Lance Lynn, who is ahead of schedule as he prepares to play for Team USA in the WBC.

Camp Grifol

Hahn went out of his way to praise Grifol as he begins his first year on the job.

“It’s hard for me to do justice to how impressive Pedro and his staff have been over the last few weeks and month,” Hahn said. “He and his staff have been face-to-face with several players. The energy, the focus, the attention to detail has been fantastic to date and we’re very much looking forward to getting this thing going in earnest.

“There’s going to be different messaging and different game prep. We made very significant changes to our coaching staff. I think that answers one of the elements we thought we could get better in.”

La Russa update

Tony La Russa, who stepped down late last season for health reasons, would have been in the third year of his contract. But Hahn doesn’t expect to see La Russa, who has a home in Arizona, around camp.

“I talked to him last week for a while. He was doing well,” Hahn said. “He’s continuing to get treatments, and his No. 1 focus remains his health. So I don’t suspect you’ll see him here. Perhaps we can get him out to sit and watch a game or something, enjoy some ball. But right now, his No. 1 job remains getting himself healthy.”

Schultz gets noticed

First-round draft pick Noah Schultz, a 19-year-old 6-9 lefty, made an impression on Kelly.

“The firstcomplaint I heard from a player this spring was [from] Joe Kelly,” Hahn said. “When I walked in the clubhouse this morning, he asked me why Noah Schultz wasn’t in big league camp because he has better stuff than Joe.”

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