A-Rod pacing his workouts in camp

Veteran wants to avoid hitting wall come summertime

A-Rod pacing his workouts in camp

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez says that he is trying to better pace his workouts this spring, hoping to ward off the second-half slide that dented his numbers late last season.

Rodriguez said that he felt he needed to work harder than usual during the 2014-15 offseason because he was coming back from a historic drug suspension that cost him an entire season. He was also preparing to play the field if needed, but now the full-time designated hitter believes he has found the sweet spot in his training.

"November, December and January were such workload months for me; then I hit a wall once August came," Rodriguez said. "August probably felt more like November or something. But I think this year I feel good. I'm healthy, and I think the key is to pace myself. Historically I've always done pretty well in August. Hopefully I can get back to that."

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Rodriguez will not play in Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener, but he is expected make his spring debut on Thursday against the Phillies.

A-Rod hit .282/.386/.544 with 24 homers and 61 RBIs in 95 games before Aug. 1, but he hit just .191/.300/.377 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in 56 games after that point. Over his career, Rodriguez owns a .968 OPS in August.

Manager Joe Girardi has been pleased by Rodriguez's approach this spring. Rodriguez believes that being a full year removed from his suspension and other off-field issues has helped him relax.

"I think there's a lot of weight off my shoulders. That's probably what he's seeing," Rodriguez said. "I'm happy. I'm comfortable. It's great not to be carrying all this luggage and bringing it into our clubhouse. I feel like I can be an asset in that clubhouse and be kind of a senior [leader].

"What I like about our team is we have great leaders in our clubhouse, but it's almost like a board of trustees. There are seven or eight guys that are actually doing great leading, so not one guy has to be the leader. But I feel like I'm a big part of that."

Hicks seeking a new mentor

Aaron Hicks benefited from being teammates with veteran outfielder Torii Hunter last year with the Twins, saying that Hunter helped him prepare for his business on the field while learning how to be himself away from the diamond.

Looking around the Yankees' clubhouse, Hicks said that he sees similar veteran sounding boards, and the 26-year-old will be looking for chances to speak with Carlos Beltran in particular as the season goes along.

"We've got a lot of veteran leadership here," Hicks said. "I'm definitely going to start picking their brains on all kinds of stuff. I mean, with Beltran being a switch-hitter, I can lean on him a lot. Him being an outfielder and being a center fielder and moving to the corners, there's a lot of things that I can talk to him about."

Worth noting

• The Yankees were planning on starting left-hander Richard Bleier on Saturday against the Red Sox, but Girardi said that is now up in the air because the non-roster invitee is dealing with flu-like symptoms.

"He might start. I'm not sure yet," Girardi said. "If not, we'll just start somebody else."

Luis Severino is scheduled to throw two innings or 30 pitches on Wednesday vs. the Tigers. Ivan Nova will start against the Phillies on Thursday and Bryan Mitchell gets the nod Friday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.

• No tests were scheduled for left-hander Chasen Shreve, who was hit in the back by a line drive during batting practice on Monday. Girardi said that Shreve could miss a couple of days for precautionary reasons.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.