The most positive development for Halladay since he landed on the disabled list with tightness in the back of his right shoulder after a May 27 start in St. Louis has been that he is again able to throw without pain and with a looseness in his arm.
"The biggest problem I was having before was getting up and down in between innings," he said. "I felt like I was laboring. But I didn't feel like that [Thursday]. I felt like I stayed loose the whole time. It was obviously pain free, and I felt free and easy."
Halladay, 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA when he went on the disabled list, has one hurdle to clear before being activated in time to pitch Tuesday. He will throw a bullpen session Saturday at Coors Field under the watch of pitching coach Rich Dubee.
"I just keep going step by step," Halladay said. "But after [Saturday], I'll talk to [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and Dubes, and we'll go from there. But I don't anticipate not feeling good, so I'll throw my 'pen, work on a couple things I want to work on, and we'll talk after that."
After his three-inning stint in Clearwater, Halladay threw some more in the bullpen. He said the primary reason was because he wanted to test how his arm felt after resting four times, and he had done so only three times during the game.
"I wanted to get at least one more up-and-down, so the next time out if I'm at 75, 85 pitches I can have a chance to go six innings," he said. "If you're going up and down three times to six times, that's a big difference. I wanted the extra one. So I just went down there, got up, got loose, threw five pitches, and that was about it."
Halladay said he never felt as good in spring training or during his 11 starts this season as he does right now.
"This is definitely accelerated from spring training, but I wish I would have felt that free and easy in spring training," he said. "It would have been a lot different."
Halladay has incorporated exercises designed to keep his arm loose.
"We've done all the strengthening [in the past], but there are some things I could have done as far as keeping my shoulder looser," he said. "That'll be more of a focus over the course of next winter. Hopefully I can come in with that free and easy feeling right away."
Contact Bob Brookover at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @brookob.