Knebel shocked, honored by Clemente nod

Brewers reliever dedicated to charitable efforts on, off field

September 4th, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers reliever isn't active in the community because of the accolades, but one congratulatory phone call did mean a lot Tuesday after Major League Baseball announced he was Milwaukee's nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. The honor, named for the iconic Pirates outfielder, recognizes the player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions.

"It was a shock to me," Knebel said. "It was just a good feeling. It's not [a name] you ever think you're going to be next to. I'm very honored to be nominated for it, and I know my dad is, too. He called me right when it happened, and he was pumped."

According to his son, Jeffrey Knebel called to say, "I'm very proud of all of your on-field accomplishments and everything, but this is really something that made me proud. It was good to hear that."

All-time winners

The MLB-wide winner of the Clemente Award will be selected by a blue ribbon panel that includes Commissioner Rob Manfred, Clemente's late wife and current MLB Goodwill Ambassador, Vera Clemente, as well as representatives from MLB-affiliated networks and MLB.com. Fans can also vote for the winner at mlb.com/clemente21, with the winner of that tally counting as one vote among those cast by the blue-ribbon panel.

Knebel's charitable efforts involve animal care and children, particularly kids living with illness or developmental disabilities. For the past two years he has served as a base coach at the Miracle League of Milwaukee All-Star Game, which allows all children with physical limitations to play baseball.

"That's one of my favorite things to do," Knebel said. "You just show up. The kids don't care who you are, and their smiles are huge the entire time."

Knebel, 26, and his wife, Danielle, have also donated to Autism Speaks and helped bring more 100 families to a Brewers game this year. They purchased hats for kids living with cancer in support of the "Love Your Melon" apparel brand, which is dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America and supporting the fight against pediatric cancer. And for the past three years, Knebel served as an honorary chair for the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals "Vest a K-9" Event.

Gonzalez gets assignment

After nearly getting into Monday's series opener against the Cubs as a reliever in two spots, newly acquired left-hander was removed from bullpen duty Tuesday and slotted to start for the Brewers on Saturday against the Giants at Miller Park.

Chase Anderson, Gonzalez and are currently lined up to start that series. Struggling was removed from the rotation and sent to the bullpen.

The Brewers are trading one struggling starter (Guerra has a 6.99 ERA since the All-Star break) with another, more experienced one (Gonzalez has a 6.55 ERA since the break). But the Brewers traded for Gonzalez before Friday's deadline to acquire players and have them eligible for postseason play, and hope a break helps. Gonzalez hasn't pitched since last Wednesday in Philadelphia.

"I had a good time with the boys over there in the bullpen," said Gonzalez, who has not pitched in relief since 2009. "There's a lot of life, a lot of information that goes on over there. They're 100 percent locked in on every hitter, every at-bat. It was kind of cool to see it from a different perspective.

"Now I'm just getting the message that I'm going to get to start on Saturday. Hey, let's go."

Asked about the long layoff between his final start for the Nationals and his first one for the Brewers, Gonzalez said, "I don't want to use any excuse. The way I see it is give me the ball, I'm going to try to give you 100 percent of my talent."

SkySox fall short

It was a heartbreaking finish for fans of the Triple-A Colorado Springs SkySox, who needed to win one of their final four regular-season games to make the playoffs -- and extend their affiliation with the Brewers -- but they were swept in consecutive doubleheaders on Sunday and Monday by the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

Thus ended Triple-A baseball in Colorado Springs after 31 years. That franchise is moving to San Antonio next year, and the Brewers are not expected to go along for the ride. It remains unclear where Milwaukee will match with a Triple-A team, though Fresno has long been rumored as most likely.

The Brewers' Rookie-level Pioneer League franchise is moving from Helena, Mont., to Colorado Springs, so there will be baseball there.