Jesse RogersESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
Hendrix, 34, received several standing ovations, before taking the mound and as he entered the game in the top of the eighth inning. Installed in one turn.
“It was definitely emotional,” Hendrix said after losing 6-4. “It was humbling to go out there and see how many people were wearing my jerseys, how many people were carrying banners or flags or anything like that — how many people were cheering when I got into the game.”
Both teams stood up and applauded Hendrix, as did the Memorial Day crowd at Guaranteed Price Field. Home plate umpire John Lipka and the Angels’ lead off the inning, Matt Theis, also gave Hendrix a moment to take it all out before the inning began.
“It was great to be back,” Hendrix said. “I felt good. I felt strong. I felt good out there. Unfortunately, for me, I couldn’t get two goals where I wanted to.”
Hendrix threw 27 pitches, surrendering on a sacrifice fly by Zach Nieto and a single by Mike Trout. In the end he made Shuhei Ohtani finish the inning, his first since October 3.
He kept his first pitch of the inning as a memento.
“The outpouring of love, not just online and on social media, but in person, has been huge and I want to thank the city of Chicago for embracing us in this way,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix was diagnosed with cancer in December, and the news broke in early January. His goal was to return without being placed on the 60-day injured list. He accomplished it.
“He came up to me in the parking lot when I first got to Arizona for the start of spring training,” General Manager Rick Hahn said before the game. He told me, “I can be back before those 60 days are up.” (Monday) it’s Day 60. … (And) we’re literally, we’re only 45 days away from his last chemotherapy treatment, so it’s great that he’s here.”
Hahn noted that the team is dealing in somewhat “uncharted” territory in terms of its rehabilitation and use of the mound. After the exit, his manager indicated that it was a daily assessment and he wasn’t sure when Hendriks would resume closing duties.
“We’ll address this as we go,” said Pedro Grifoll. “It’s too early for that answer. We’ll see how he (Tuesday) feels and make that decision as we go.”
“I want to earn it,” Hendrix said of returning for the ninth inning.
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