MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ Tom Gordon got through his final tuneup without a hitch Wednesday and is set to return to the mound in a game for the first time since 1999.

Gordon, who had reconstructive elbow surgery in December 1999, is scheduled to pitch one inning of relief for the Chicago Cubs on Friday against the White Sox in Tucson.

``Everything went great,'' Gordon said after pitching batting practice. ``I just have to fine tune things a bit.''

Gordon threw about 35 pitches, showing good velocity and getting a fist pump from pitching coach Oscar Acosta after one particularly good fastball.

``I tried to turn things up today. I got winded a bit at the end, but it felt good. I'm feeling the way I should be.''

After more than a year of waiting _ the hardest part of the recovery, according to Gordon _ the right-hander is excited to get back on the mound in a game.

``I'm going to have to tone things down a little bit,'' Gordon said. ``I'll start preparing for Friday on Thursday night. I'm looking forward to it.''

Friday's outing marks the end of an arduous journey for the Cubs' closer.

Gordon, who led the American League with 46 saves in 1998 for Boston, went on the disabled list in June 1999 with an injured right elbow. He returned to the Red Sox in September, but struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs.

He finally had ``Tommy John'' ligament replacement surgery in December 1999, and then missed all of last season recuperating.

For his comeback, Gordon passed on opportunities to ease back as a setup man and signed a $5 million, two-year deal in December to be the closer in Chicago.

``This is truly a blessing,'' Gordon said. ``It couldn't be going any better than the way it's been going.''