(670 The Score) On the back fields of the White Sox’s facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, closer Liam Hendriks continues to work out and train as much as he physically can as he goes through treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Hendriks’ attitude has continued to be an inspiration for his White Sox teammates, and his return to game action understandably remains uncertain. In his absence, manager Pedro Grifol hasn’t named a closer and doesn’t plan to.
Instead, the White Sox will use a closer-by-committee approach. That will allow them to play the matchup advantages and also perhaps can keep the pressure off their relievers as Opening Day nears next Thursday.
“We are going to leverage the bullpen and the first day, we'll have everybody available,” Grifol recently told reporters. “The second day, we probably won't.”
Several members of the White Sox’s bullpen have closing experience. Kendall Graveman had six saves in 2022, and Joe Kelly and Jake Diekman have experience in the closing role earlier in their careers.
Beyond them, the player to keep an eye on is 29-year-old right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who has some of the nastiest stuff in the White Sox’s bullpen. Lopez had a strong 2022 season in his middle reliever role, posting a 2.76 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 61 appearances.
As White Sox reliever Jimmy Lambert recently told reporters, the White Sox feel like they have "eight guys who can be high-leverage guys" in their bullpen. Lopez is one of them, and he's ready to step up in the ninth inning if called upon.
“(Grifol) knows I am not scared,” Lopez told MLB.com recently. "I can throw every pitch in every count.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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