Hendrix back with Thunder after spring training scare
TRENTON » When Jeff Hendrix dropped by the doctor’s office for a routine physical near the end of spring training the last thing he expected was to miss the first monthand-a-half of the season.
Hendrix’s doctor wanted him to go see a dermatologist for further evaluation of some moles he had on his body. It was there that it was decided he would need to have them removed — one from behind his ear, one from his arm and one from his back.
“You never know what they are taking out,” Hendrix said prior to the Thunder’s series opener against Bowie at Arm & Hammer Park on Thursday night. “It could be cancerous, and anytime you hear that word it’s scary, but everything came back clear, so I’m very thankful for all of that.”
It ended up delaying the 24-yearold’s start to the season. Instead of beginning the year with the Thunder where he slashed .333/.417/.375 in 32 games to close out 2017, Hendrix remained in Tampa for extended spring training.
Extended spring training, to be frank, sucks.
“You just got to get through it and get back to being comfortable with everything you’re doing,” Hendrix said. “They decided to send me to Trenton, and I’m thankful to be here and now I got to start proving myself.”
So far it’s been a slow start. Hendrix has just one hit in his first 11 at-bats, but manager Jay Bell isn’t worried about him.
“Whenever you go from a lower level like extended spring training and you’re preparing to get back to a higher level, it’s a little bit difficult because the game goes a little bit faster, the players are a little bit better and so you tend to drag a little bit until you finally catch up,” Bell said. “He’s right where he’s supposed to be. He looks fine at the plate, he hasn’t found his timing quite yet, but he’ll be fine.”
Once Hendrix finds that timing, he’ll show fans why the Yankees used a fourth-round pick in 2015 on him out of Oregon State.
“He’s a guy that can get on base, he swings the bat pretty good, sprays the ball around and doesn’t strike out a ton,” Bell said. “He’s able to be a table setter. I’m going to keep him up at the top of the order. I believe in him. He’s going to be really good for this team.”
Hendrix said he’s focused on becoming a better runner. He’s swiped at least 17 bases in each of his three pro seasons and has a career 78.7 percent success rate.
To better that, he first has to get on base, something vital if he’s also going to bat at the top of the order.
“As long as I can find ways on base, and obviously, I haven’t been yet, but I’m going to keep working on it,” said Hendrix, who has a career .378 OBP and .712 OPS. “I got to start finding ways to get on and score runs because as a top of the lineup guy you got to get on and you got to score.”
There’s no doubt he’ll do just that.
“I have a little more than 10 at bats now, so the more at bats the more comfortable you get out there,” Hendrix said. “I’m happy to be here and I’m going to continue working hard in everything I’m doing.”
Thunder’s Jeff Hendrix jogs to third base during the first inning of a game against Bowie on Thursday night.