PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay is an optimistic man as he prepares to leave on Thursday for Clearwater, Fla.
Halladay said Wednesday he has made steady progress since right shoulder surgery in May. He threw a lengthy bullpen session on Monday and plans to throw a five-inning simulated game on Saturday at Carpenter Complex. If everything goes well, there is a chance he could begin a rehab assignment next week, although Halladay declined to put a timetable on a potential return to the Phillies.
The original timetable always had Halladay back in late August or early September.
"Everything, so far, has gone how we mapped it out," Halladay said. "I've felt really good the whole time. To me, it's really important that not only do I feel good, but the evaluation of what I'm doing is important also. I can't just say, 'Hey, I feel good. Bring me back.' The evaluation of what I'm doing and how things are going has to be there too.
"I'm not interested in coming back and pitching at the same level I was early this year. I want to come back and pitch at a high level."
This is an interesting time for Halladay. On the field, he will be looking to see if he can still get big league hitters out. Off the field, he is a free agent following the season. He said last month he would like to stay in Philadelphia, but that was before the Phillies entered a remarkable tailspin, which has some observers questioning the direction of the organization.
Halladay said his view of the Phillies has not changed.
"I see a lot here, actually," he said. "I see, obviously, Chase [Utley]. I like our third baseman [Cody Asche]. I like his swing and would like to see him catch fire at the end of the season. And Domonic Brown has been a positive. Seeing how Ryan Howard does this winter is good.
"And obviously, myself, knowing I can come back and compete at a high level is important. I see a lot here. I really do. It would obviously be my first choice if everything goes the way I feel it's been going. But that's down the road. I'm just trying to focus on now."
Halladay said the identity of the Phillies' pitching coach could also play a role in his decision. Current pitching coach Rich Dubee is in the final year of his contract, and the thought is that the front office will make coaching staff changes following the season.
"To me, it's important," Halladay said. "I never was very fortunate in Toronto to have long-term pitching coaches. They were in and out pretty quick. I felt like the longer I had a guy, the more he knew me, the more he could help me. Rich has been unbelievable since I've been here. He's helped me tremendously. That is definitely something to think about. If he's here, you know what you're going to get."
But the Phillies will want to see Halladay pitch with some success before they decide to bring him back. That is OK with him. He wants to see some success, too.
"I want to make sure when I start my rehab assignment I feel like I am able to compete at a high level," he said. "I don't want to treat it as a Spring Training-type of thing. I'm getting close to that now, where I can compete that way. I want to compete in those games like I would here, so I know when I get here, where I stand.
"I'm not coming back to try to get a contract for next year, a bigger contract, anything like that. I just want to come back and pitch. After that, hopefully make a decision on where I can win. I hope that's here."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.