NEW YORK – Even though they're in opposing dugouts this week, New York Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco and Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks are part of the same inspiring club.
Fellow cancer survivors, they teamed up Wednesday to host pediatric cancer patients from Cohen Children’s Medical Center at Citi Field as part of Carrasco's program called Cookie’s Kids.
“It was really nice,” Carrasco told MLB.com. “He came over and he wanted to do this. There’s a lot of people who can see that (and realize) if we can make it, they can make it, too.”
The kids were shown around the ballpark and given access to normally off-limits areas such as the dugout and bullpen. They met with Hendriks and Carrasco to hear their encouraging stories of beating cancer.
The children also received lunch, giveaways and tickets to a future Mets game.
“The one thing I always try and stress is, you’re not alone," Hendriks said. "Reach out, talk to people. Don’t be worried about talking to a therapist. Don’t be worried about talking to people about it. You remove the stigma of the word ‘cancer.’ The more you talk about it, the lighter you start feeling. It takes that weight off of you.”
The 34-year-old Hendriks returned to the mound in late May after missing the start of the season while recovering from stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The three-time All-Star from Australia has been on the injured list since June 11 with right elbow inflammation.
Carrasco, 36, was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2019 and missed three months that season before returning to pitch for Cleveland.
“It was great today, being able to talk to him about his stuff, what he went through and kind of relate the stories,” Hendriks told reporters. “And then to hear some of the kids talk about their treatment plans and everything, it’s always really cool. It takes the edge off. … You’re trying to remove the stigma of going through treatment and not being able to talk about it.”
Hendriks threw 17 pitches off the Citi Field mound in a simulated game Wednesday as he works his way back from the elbow injury.
Hendriks had a cortisone shot last month and was scheduled for a PRP injection. Both were cleared by his oncologist.
The pitcher said he thinks chemotherapy treatments could have played a role in his injury.