PHILADELPHIA -- With the Cubs playing their final game of April on Monday, manager Dale Sveum was asked about his overall impression of the first month. While the club, 8-15 after a 6-4 loss to the Phillies, would have preferred a better record, the overall effort was there in Sveum's judgment, and that's a good place to start.
"Obviously, you'd like better results on the winning side of it," Sveum said. "The pitching has been OK. The starters have been well above average on most days. It's just a matter of us being able to score runs."
Sveum has a point, especially after the last week, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. The Cubs finished the month ranked 13th in the National League in pitching, with a 4.21 ERA, but the return of right-hander Ryan Dempster could change that.
Dempster, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 18 with a right quadriceps strain, threw a successful bullpen session on Monday, and the Cubs expect him to return to the hill on Thursday in Cincinnati.
"Our pitching has been good enough for us to create leads, but we haven't done that," Sveum said. "Other than what other teams have had, we've had a few hiccups, but the effort has been tremendous."