"I feel as good now as I have in any other spring training," said Halladay, who began throwing regular side-sessions to prep for spring training last month. "Last year, it's not that I felt bad; it just never seemed to click for me. And the longer it got into the season, I could never really solve the problems I was having. It made it tough.
"But I feel like the things we've done this winter have made a big difference. There is no such thing as a crystal ball. But I'm confident that if I can maintain the way I feel right now, that I'm going to be effective."
In his first two seasons in Philadelphia, Halladay was as good as advertised.
He won a Cy Young Award in 2010, finished as runner-up in 2011 and pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter. He was continuing a career path that would eventually take him to Cooperstown.
But Halladay, who turns 36 in May, never looked himself in 2012. He landed on the disabled list in late May and stayed there for almost 2 months.
While it was first called a shoulder injury and then diagnosed by doctors as a lat strain, Halladay said Wednesday that "lower-back issues" were the main culprit.
"I really hadn't dealt with it before; it kind of snuck up on me and changed a lot of the things I did mechanically," Halladay said.
With his mechanics out of whack, Halladay lost something more vital to his repertoire than fastball velocity, which he felt was overstated throughout the 2012 season. He lost his command.
The result was a lot of balls left over the middle of the plate and a 4.49 ERA in 25 starts. To put that into perspective: Halladay had a 2.98 ERA in 321 games from 2001 to 2011.
"When you feel good and you feel comfortable it's easier to locate. It's easier to make pitches," Halladay said. "For me, whenever I've felt really good I've had better location . . . I felt like there were a lot of times last year when I was struggling physically and mechanically to get the balls to the parts of the plate where I wanted it."
When the season was over, Halladay knew he had the time to get right and reconfigure his workout program.
"Going into this winter that was a focus for us," Halladay said. "How do I fix that? How do I make that area stronger and allow me to get back to doing what I do mechanically?
"It wasn't going to be a regular maintenance [thing] like any other pitcher . . . this has got to be a focus going forward, coming up with a program, which they had, that was out there, that was focused specifically on strengthening that area and making it more flexible, allowing everything else to get back to where it was."
The ever-meticulous Halladay met with trainers, strength coaches and doctors and devised a game plan. The new routine involves a lot more core work, but exercises more "specific to pitching," he said, than the stuff most people might be doing at their local gym.
His famous, long runs were abbreviated to "shorter distances" and "higher intensity."
Although his off-the-field routine changed, Halladay doesn't expect to alter what he does in between the white lines. He's not interested in hearing people say his affinity for complete games is a thing of the past.
"I don't like to back off. I'd rather alter," Halladay said. "I think we've altered things to where I feel I can go out and throw 120 pitches and feel fine."
The Phillies obviously need a healthy Halladay to compete in 2013. If they get something more - a healthy and effective Halladay - there's a chance he'll be back beyond 2013, too.
Halladay, who signed a $60 million contract extension when he joined the Phillies in a December 2009 trade from Toronto, needs to pitch 258 2/3 innings this season for a vesting option for 2014 to kick in. Since he has pitched more than 250 innings once in the last 9 years, the option isn't likely to vest.
Halladay said he hasn't had any discussions with the Phillies regarding a new contract, either. But his exit from Philadelphia following 2013 is far from guaranteed.
"If I had my druthers I would be here until I'm done," Halladay said. "As good as they've been to me, I think they realize I'd be as good to them as I could be. Going forward, I really don't see myself playing anywhere else. And I don't want to play anywhere else."
Questions of his expiring contract, his health or his age matter little to Halladay. He answers them because he knows that's a part of his job.
Halladay may be another year older and another year closer to the end of his career, but he still has the same tunnel vision he had when he arrived.
"I'm playing to win a World Series," Halladay said. "That's why I'm playing baseball and for no other reason. However we get to that goal, that's the bottom line. If it takes 320 innings and I can throw it, I'll do it.
"That's the reason I'm here. And that's it. I'm not worried about next year and 2 years and 3 years from now. I'm trying to win a World Series."
With a healthy Halladay, that just may be possible for the Phillies in 2013.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21