Whispers: Verlander better than it seems

Justin Verlander seemingly has been mediocre, with the Tigers winning only two of his six April starts, but his 3.64 ERA is actually a good sign. This is the first time since 2007 that he has finished the first month with an ERA below 5.50. … Manny Ramirez's retirement allowed the Rays to slide Sam Fuld onto the All-Star ballot, and manager Joe Maddon expects him to get a lot of support. Maddon said Fuld has been just as good in left field as Carl Crawford. … The Giants are playing Brandon Belt in the outfield at Triple A. He will go to an outfield corner when he returns rather than unseating Aubrey Huff at first base. … Jason Varitek is getting more time behind the plate than most expected, a sign the Red Sox will be adding a catcher along the way. … Rangers manager Ron Washington is improvising in the bullpen while closer Neftali Feliz is out. Last Saturday, 40-year-old Darren Oliver became the oldest pitcher in franchise history to get a save. But the record lasted only one day, as 41-year-old Arthur Rhodes got one Sunday. … Ryan Howard has had four strikeouts in a game 20 times with the Phillies, and they have gone 12-8 in those games. … The Mariners' Michael Pineda continues to look like a worthy No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. Pineda won four games in April, breaking Freddy Garcia's franchise rookie record of three. … Carlos Lee, who is owed $39 million, is testing the Astros' patience with a batting average around the Mendoza line. Some say he walked every step from the dugout to left field last weekend in Milwaukee. He's taking a spot from Brian Bogusevic, whose bat and energy could help the Astros. … The Pirates lead the majors in waiver claims. GM Neal Huntington has nabbed 19 players in his three-plus years on the job, including Brandon Wood and Xavier Paul last week. The Pirates are taking a look at Wood as their shortstop, a role that wasn't open to him in Anaheim.

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