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Veteran-youth dynamic key to Rays' success

Neander, Bloom, Cash looking to older players to lead in 2018
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays held their annual pre-Spring Training news conference on Wednesday.

Answering questions were general manager Erik Neander, senior vice president Chaim Bloom and manager Kevin Cash. The flavor of the group's answers were optimistic, as they expect to have a competitive camp and they expect to be in contention this season.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays held their annual pre-Spring Training news conference on Wednesday.

Answering questions were general manager Erik Neander, senior vice president Chaim Bloom and manager Kevin Cash. The flavor of the group's answers were optimistic, as they expect to have a competitive camp and they expect to be in contention this season.

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"I think the successes we have this year are going to depend on two things," Neander said. "The health of our veteran players and guys who have established themselves at the Major League level. And then second, the younger talent we have. Just how that breaks in, how that breaks through and what they can provide.

"It's not easy to come to the Major League level for the first time and have immediate success. I think for us to compete, we're going to need some guys to step up and provide that. And certainly the talent is there for that to happen."

Rumors are still prevalent about what may or may not happen to the Rays' roster in the way of acquisitions or trades before the start of the season. Neander acknowledged the uncertainty of the climate.

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"This is the reality; there's a lot that's unsettled across all of baseball right now with the players that are out there," Neander said. "Our job description is to do the best we can with what's available and to make sure we're considering all possibilities as we go forward. That could mean guys move out of our camp, it could mean guys could move in. At this point, it's about being active, being in tune with the market and what's going on, and just trying to make sure we're as prepared as possible doing what's best for the organization."

The Rays officially open camp on Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers hold their first workout at 10:30 a.m. ET. All workouts are open to the public.

New-look Colome 

Alex Colome is sporting a new hairstyle -- a look with long braids.

When asked if he was influenced by fellow right-hander Chris Archer's style, the Rays closer chuckled: "It's mine."

Colome has been involved a lot of trade rumors this offeason, following a season that saw him lead the Major Leagues with 47 saves.

"I didn't expect to be here, but I'm here now and I'm hopeful to do well," Colome said.

Going forward, Colome said he doesn't know what might happen regarding his status as a trade candidate, but he added: "My job right now is just to prepare myself to play wherever I play."

Colome smiled when questioned whether he rented or bought in St. Petersburg: "I rent."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Colome