The Chicago White Sox will be without one of the top closers in baseball for a while after placing Liam Hendriks on the 15-day injured list Tuesday with a right forearm strain.
“It’s a matter of how he responds to treatment over the next few days before we come up with an exact timetable, but the preliminary estimate would be three weeks,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said before Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park .
Hendriks is 1-2 with a 2.81 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 16 saves in 25 appearances this season. He is tied for the American League lead in saves.
“It gives a team the confidence if they get the lead it’s going to end up shaking hands,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Hendriks’ impact. “It’s that tangible intangible. You can’t touch it but you know we’ve got him.
“To do it justice, the team has to feel that way about the last third or fourth (of a game), sixth or the ninth (inning). It’s beyond Liam, but he is the anchor.”
The move, retroactive to Sunday, was one of four announced by the Sox on Tuesday. They also reinstated reliever Joe Kelly from the 15-day injured list, recalled pitcher Davis Martin from Triple-A Charlotte and optioned Bennett Sousa to Charlotte.
Hendriks last pitched Friday against the Texas Rangers at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“As a veteran pitcher, he’s used to having discomfort from time to time and he felt in his last outing, it was just a little bit different,” Hahn said. “Over his next couple of days they were able to get it calmed down enough to obviously we kept him active because we thought it was going to resolve itself, and (Monday) it seemed to move a little bit where it was giving him trouble.
“We went ahead and scanned him and saw the mild signal of the strain and decided the best to err on the side of caution. I think if Liam had his wishes his we would continue to treat him to keep him active and run him back out there sooner rather than later. But taking the conservative path on this one serves us better long term.”
Hendriks led the AL with 38 saves last season, his first with the Sox, and was named the American League’s Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year.
Kelly and Kendall Graveman are among the options to close. Graveman pitched the ninth in Monday’s 9-5 victory against the Tigers.
“That’s a really big blow, but we’ve got Joe coming back and I think it’s the same thing as last year, that was a huge thing about the next man up,” said reliever Aaron Bummer, who is on the injured list with a with a left lat strain. “Somebody else is going to have to step up without Liam back there. It’s a pretty big blow. We’re obviously concerned and hopeful that his stint is pretty short.
“But there’s a bunch of guys out there that can carry the load. Kendall and Joe have both done it before for a while. And I’ve got a feeling that they’re going to be able to continue to go out there and to do their job and keep the line moving until Liam gets back.”
Kelly was placed on the injured list May 26 with a strained left hamstring. He is 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA, six holds and eight strikeouts in seven relief outings.
“He feels good and it’s good to have him back,” Hahn said. “Another veteran in the bullpen, especially in Liam’s absence. And another real positive in the clubhouse.”
Martin is 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA and 14 strikeouts in three games (two starts) with the Sox. Sousa is 3-0 with an 8.41 ERA and one save in 25 relief appearances.
In other injury news, Sox shortstop Tim Anderson began a rehab assignment Tuesday with Charlotte. He is recovering from a strained right groin.
Hahn said the Sox don’t anticipate having him back for the weekend series against the Astros in Houston. The hope is for Anderson to be back for the next homestand, which begins Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“But let’s let him play a little bit and then we can adjust the timeline,” Hahn said.