Former Mariners pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith signed with the Houston Astros and is looking forward to competing for a job in their rotation. In the meantime, he's enjoying the holidays in his native Australia.

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Ryan Rowland-Smith is catching some sun, waves and a high-school reunion back home and appreciating what he has this holiday season.

He was out of work only a few days after the Mariners released him earlier this month. He had just arrived in his native Australia when the Houston Astros signed him to a one-year, $725,000 contract. The deal is pending a physical, which will be completed once Rowland-Smith flies back to the United States in the new year.

“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of work this offseason, and now I’ll get a chance to show it on the baseball field.”

Rowland-Smith will compete for a fifth-starter’s job in the rotation along with Nelson Figueroa, Rule 5 draft picks Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton, and top Astros prospect Jordan Lyles.

Passing the physical should be the easy part of Rowland-Smith’s offseason.

He’s been in intensive mixed martial arts training in California, with professional fighter Cooper Gibson and NFL commentator Jay Glazer overseeing his daily workouts. Rowland-Smith planned to continue as much of the training as he could in Australia, while also working out with his celebrity fitness trainer father, Rob, at a backyard compound.

He also planned to attend his 10-year reunion with Newcastle High School’s Class of 2000.

Though he maintains a home in Seattle, which he’ll continue to rent out for investment purposes, Rowland-Smith had already shifted his offseason time away from the Emerald City. The gym where he trains in Los Angeles is only a few blocks’ drive from the home of his actress girlfriend, Amanda, who is the sister of Mariners closer David Aardsma.

“It’s been really convenient having it so close by,” Rowland-Smith said. “I’m pretty much living down there full time this winter, anyway.”

After going 1-10 in 2010 with a 6.75 earned-run average — the worst by any full-time starting pitcher in the majors — Rowland-Smith is grateful for the second chance.

“That wasn’t me,” he said. “That’s not the pitcher I am. I know it’s easy to talk and in the end, you have to prove it on the field. That’s what I intend to do. And whoever gives me the chance, they’re going to see the pitcher I can be.”

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com