More pre-game notes

Rays pitcher Matt Garza doesn’t lack for confidence and he doesn’t worry about firing up the opposition.

He challenged the Orioles today in a St. Petersburg Times notebook item, still fuming over the four home runs he surrendered against them on July 20, which prompted this response from manager Buck Showalter:

“There are a lot of people who feel that way that just don’t say it publicly, so what’s the difference? A lot of them feel that way. He’s certainly a good pitcher and that was a real break from the norm. Pitchers do have a good memory, especially ones that pitch once every five days like that.

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

Showalter counts three instances when rookie Josh Bell has forgotten the number of outs, the most recent incident occurring last night. Bell stepped on third base for the force and made an unnecessary throw to first baseman Ty Wigginton.

Asked if it’s been addressed and whether it’s a concern, Showalter replied, “Yes and yes.”

“It’s a concentration thing. I think Josh is trying to get through whatever anxiety might be there about the opportunity. He has some days when you can tell he’s real comfortable. The game should never catch you by surprise. That’s a concentration thing that you don’t expect or tolerate from anybody. That’s just something that tells you that you need to have a little bit better concentration level.

“They were all asking Wiggy in the dugout what he was doing at first base. He had a great answer: ‘I couldn’t tell if he touched the bag. Plus, I was headed toward the dugout anyway. I just happened to stop there and next thing I know, he was firing it.’ That being said, it’s not funny. He was embarrassed about it, but not good.”

Showalter conceded that he needs to get a more extended look at Rick VandenHurk, who’s out of options next spring.

VandenHurk says he speaks four languages: Dutch, German, English and Spanish.

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