Liam Hendriks is hoping for a quick return to the Chicago White Sox: ‘They say 3 weeks, I’m targeting July 1’

Liam Hendriks is used to getting the final three outs as the Chicago White Sox closer.

Recently, he has been limited to watching the action unfold.

”I was going stir crazy in the bullpen (Tuesday),” Hendriks said before Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

The right-hander is recovering after being placed on the 15-day injured list Tuesday with a right forearm strain.

”I’ve had a tear in my UCL since ‘08,” Hendriks said. “It’s been there, that’s been manageable, I’ve been able to deal with it. But over the course of this year my elbow has been constantly inflamed a little more than usual.

“It got to the point where it was inflamed, it was getting a little uncertain, there’s a slight forearm strain in there, so we’re taking care of that. The ligament hasn’t changed, nothing has changed on any other end that way, so it’s a mild strain, hopefully get back out there. They say three weeks, I’m targeting July 1.”

Hendriks last pitched Friday, when he struck out one in a scoreless ninth to wrap up an 8-3 win against the Texas Rangers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Kendall Graveman handled ninth-inning duties Monday in a 9-5 win against the Tigers. Reynaldo López got the ball in the ninth Tuesday in a 5-1 victory after Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless eighth. José Ruiz got the final out Wedneday in a 13-0 win.

If the Sox are in a save situation this weekend in Houston, Graveman — who spent parts of last season pitching for the Astros — or Kelly are the most likely options.

Graveman has 12 career saves, including two this season. He was a starter with the Oakland A’s from 2015-18 before working out of the bullpen with the Seattle Mariners. Kelly has five career saves, two coming last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Kendall’s got experience saving games, you saw that last year (with Seattle),” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. “Certainly capable of doing it. Joe Kelly certainly has the stuff to pull it off. And in various situations, we might have to mix and match a little bit. With (Aaron) Bummer down, he’s obviously currently not an option, but some point when he returns, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, he’ll probably be in that mix as well if Liam’s not active yet.”

Bummer went on the injured list retroactive to June 9 with a left lat strain. The left-hander, who has a 3.06 ERA, nine holds and one save, was out May 7-22 with a right knee strain.

“I’ve been talking to you guys more about coming in and off the injured list than anything,” Bummer said Tuesday. “It’s frustrating, especially when I felt like I was starting to roll, both times. I thought I was throwing the ball pretty well, taking steps forward. It’s frustrating to be sitting on the sidelines again, but hopefully it’s a short stint and we’ll be back and be able to continue that groove.”

Tanner Banks stepped up recently as a left-handed option. He threw two hitless innings Sunday against the Rangers and one the next night against the Tigers.

“I’m really trying to bear down and trust my routine every day and trust my approach,” Banks said Tuesday. “Try to eliminate thinking as much as I can through pregame preparation and then just try to throw strikes and let my defense do their job. And they have.”

The bullpen has been tested — including last weekend with consecutive extra-inning games against the Rangers. Hendriks, who has a 2.81 ERA and 16 saves, is looking forward to getting back in that mix.

“It’s a matter of getting this done safely and getting me back out there to pitch, that’s the big thing for me,” he said. “I also want to be able to go when I get back and not be coddled or babied. Be able to go back-to-back.

“I’m not concerned with it long term at all. You see forearm flexor strain (is a) precursor to a lot of things. But there’s been no change in my ligament, and that’s the good thing. That was one of the relieving parts of it. There was no damage to that, just a slight sprain.”

Meanwhile, he’ll be watching his fellow relievers contribute.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are willing to come in,” Hendriks said. “We’ve had a lot of guys over there with a higher workload than they would have had in previous years. Some guys making their debuts, guys who have never pitched in back-to-back games. Doing that from the get-go it’s always going to wear on you a little bit.

“But luckily we’ve got a couple veterans toward the end there that will help out, (and) once the starters get rolling and start getting into deeper games, we’re going to be searching for (relief) innings out there.”

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