Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What to Know About Baseball Split Squad?

Spring training is a special time for baseball, a time for teams to try out new players, begin to gel as a team and play numerous practice games. Spring training game schedules often contain references to SS, or split squad. In its most simple terms, this means the spring training team is divided into two smaller teams.
Spring Training
Baseball spring training is the primary opportunity for team coaches and managers to observe the skills and play of both returning and potential players. Players are evaluated in different positions, in different game situations and against each other. In split squad games, the large spring training team is split into two groups, or squads, to further this evaluation process.
Split Squad Game Options
One traditional split squad game option is to pit the two squads of the same team against each other. This may pit rookies against veterans, pushing the rookies to improve their level of play and giving the veterans a taste of the competition nipping at their heels. The squads may also be split evenly, each with a mix of experienced and newer players, allowing each group to get the feel of a game situation with their teammates, and allowing the players to try different positions.
Competition Against Other Teams
More typically, split squads play other teams, often on the same day. This provides teams greater exposure to the opponents they may face during the regular season and also gives a greater number of players experience playing in an actual game against real opponents. Coaches use these games to assess and compare players vying for the same position in terms of skills, ability to handle game stress and interaction with their teammates.
Beyond Spring Training
At the professional level, split squads are used only in spring training, never during the actual season. In school and recreational leagues, however, a team may play occasional split squad games. This may be to allow more players to play, to accommodate uneven numbers of teams in leagues or simply through agreements between opposing coaches. The benefits here, as in the pros, is that more players gain game experience and coaches have greater opportunity to observe and evaluate individual players. The potential downsides are similar as well: Fans may not always get to see their favorite players, more players are exposed to injury and games may not reflect the full skill of the total team.

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