NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hardly anyone thought Alex Rodriguez would be celebrating his 40th birthday as a member of the New York Yankees. Many were convinced he’d be out of baseball altogether.

But A-Rod has pulled off the improbable, finding himself in the good graces of MLB, the Bombers and their fans after serving a yearlong drug suspension.

READ MORE: Reaction Pours In To The Death Of Gen. Colin Powell

“It was a good time for me to pause and just get a full understanding of making smart choices and surrounding myself with good people,” Rodriguez said Sunday, “and really appreciating everything that baseball and life has to offer.”

A-Rod said he’ll be among friends when he celebrates the four-oh milestone on Monday. His daughters will also be with him in Texas, where the Yankees (55-42) open a four-game set against the Rangers.

Alex Rodriguez watches a ball leave the yard against the Minnesota Twins on July 25, 2015. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez watches a ball leave the yard against the Minnesota Twins on July 25, 2015. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

READ MORE: Mother, Man Arrested In New York City In Connection To Investigation Into Missing New Hampshire Boy

“I’m happy where I’m at: great kids, good friends, team in first place,” said Rodriguez, whose history with performance-enhancing drugs includes his three-year stint in Arlington.

A-Rod, batting .277 with 23 home runs and 58 RBIs, said manager Joe Girardi deserves credit for being a “big part” of his turnaround.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but he stayed in touch with me throughout the year last year and that meant a great deal to me,” Rodriguez said. “He also was always very encouraging and helped me a lot with my offseason regimen.”

A-Rod’s offseason included an apology tour for his actions in baseball’s Biogenesis mess, and he’s managed to stay drama-free for longer than most thought possible. He’s also embraced his role as the Yankees’ full-time designated hitter, designed in part to keep his two surgically repaired hips fresh for the entire season.

MORE NEWS: Trial Date Set For Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr.

“There will be some days I feel like 50 and there will be some days I feel like 30,” said Rodriguez, who hit three home runs in Saturday’s win over Minnesota. “Overall, I’m happy and healthy and in a good place.”