There's never been an athlete quite as tied up in his perception as Alex Rodriguez. Now he has decided he needs to change his poor public image, so he'll begin using Facebook to better relate to his minions.

"I want my fans to know how much I appreciate them," Rodriguez told ESPN New York. "I have always been pretty private, but I like that I'm getting the chance to interact with my fans on a more personal level."

The 36-year-old baseball player says what fans read on Facebook will come directly from his mouth, kind of.

"The posts on my page will come from me. Obviously my time is limited and I have people to assist with certain things, but I will have an active role in all of the content on my fan page," Rodriguez said.

TMZ and other gossip sites figure to have a field day with the photos that A-Rod is planning to publish on his page. "Some candid pictures, some posts about issues that are important to me such as education, a few inspirational messages ... and I plan to answer some fan questions on video, too," A-Rod said. "I'm looking forward to sharing experiences in my life that aren't part of a box score."

Technically, Rodriguez joined Facebook in September 2011, but he didn't actively use it. Only last Friday did the highest paid player in baseball decide to participate in the social network.

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While Twitter is clearly better for breaking jock news, the sometimes socially awkward star told ESPN New York he's not yet ready to join the micro-blogging site.

"I'm taking one social media step at a time," Rodriguez said. "I really wanted to start with Facebook first to see how that experience goes for me and I'll go from there. But it's on my radar, yes."

Since 2004 through the end of 2011, Facebook had a stunning 845 million active users. Roughly 80 percent come from outside the United States and Canada.

By the way, A-Rod had more than 720,000 "likes" on his Facebook page as of Friday morning, but that's not even close to less famous Yankees teammate Nick Swisher's almost 1.5 million followers on Twitter.

-- Follow Ben Maller on Twitter @BenMaller.

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