Rowland-Smith eyeing Australia

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Rowland-Smith occasionally hears teammates in the Arizona Diamondbacks clubhouse talking about how to deal with the possible jet lag from their upcoming trip to Australia.

"And I'm like, 'Hey, I'm sitting right here! I've only done it about 40 times, back and forth. Just ask me,'" Rowland-Smith said. "But I get all sorts of questions. And I like talking about Australia, if you can't tell."

Indeed he does. Rowland-Smith was born in Sydney and grew up in Australia, so he knows what he's talking about when he dispenses the travel tips.

"When I came into camp, I was nervous whether the guys would be happy about the games there or worried about how it might mess up their schedule," he said. "But everyone has been very positive. They understand why the games are being played in Australia. I don't know how the Dodgers feel about it, but the guys in this clubhouse are excited."

The Diamondbacks will leave for Australia on Sunday. After playing a two-game series against the Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Ground (a night game followed by a matinee, which in Eastern Time will both fall on March 22, at 4 a.m. and 10 p.m.), they will return to Arizona to play a few more spring training games and then will resume the regular season March 31 when they host the San Francisco Giants.

Rowland-Smith is excited about Major League Baseball's first trip to Australia -- receiving many, many requests for tickets from family and friends, plus people he hasn't heard from in years -- but mostly he's excited about, and focused on, the possibility of making the Diamondbacks team and getting back to the majors for the first time in four seasons. A non-roster invitee, the 31-year-old left-hander has yet to allow an earned run in four games this spring.

One of the Mariners' better relievers from 2007 to 2009, Rowland-Smith had a disastrous 2010 season, going 1-10 with a 6.75 ERA. Seattle let him go after the season, and he has been changing teams and fighting it out in the minors ever since.

"It was just a downhill spiral," he said. "I couldn't control it. I didn't have the tool kit to deal with it, and I just let it get to me. I was lost. I was off the grid for a good year and a half as far as baseball was concerned, and I just had to claw my way back.

"The last couple years, I've been working with guys who help with the mechanics, but more importantly, psychologically dealing with it. It's long overdue. But the last couple years have made me so much better. I'm so much better a pitcher than I was when I was doing well with the Mariners."

Rowland-Smith credits Tom House, the former pitcher and pitching coach. House has a Ph.D. in sports psychology, and the Los Angeles clinic he runs includes both mechanical and psychological drills.

"He just turned it around for me," Rowland-Smith said. "He flipped the switch. If I didn't run into him, I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now."