Whether yesterday's trade between the Orioles and San Diego Padres is one that helps both teams remains to be seen.
But Craig Worthington is convinced it will help the two players affected the most -- himself and former teammate Leo Gomez.
The two have been tracking each other through the Orioles' system for the last five years -- Worthington leading the way, and Gomez following in his footsteps. At each stop -- Hagerstown, Rochester and, finally, Baltimore -- Gomez was compared to Worthington, and, in the end, vice versa.
"There wasn't anyplace else to go [after they arrived in the big leagues]," said Worthington. "We're both third basemen, we both put up some numbers."
Inevitably the competition, always friendly but nevertheless apparent to both, took its toll. "I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder," said Worthington. "And I think the same was true with Leo when I got hurt. I don't think he was ever really comfortable."
When the Orioles traded Worthington to the Padres yesterday for righthanded pitcher Jim Lewis and outfielder Steve Martin, it provided him with a sense of relief. "It was time to move on," he said. "It was time for them to make a decision and they did.
"I have no bad feelings about the Orioles at all," said Worthington,who will be returning home to southern California. "I think it is a good move for me -- and for Leo. I think it will help out both of us.
"There was never any bad blood between us," Worthington said of his relationship with Gomez. "There was competition, but never any bad blood."
Worthington is looking forward to playing in San Diego, though he was given no immediate idea about the Padres' plans. "I talked to [general manager] Joe McIlvaine and he just told me they were happy to have me and when to report.
"Frank [Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson, who negotiated his first trade] called me first and told me I had been traded," said Worthington. "He said the Orioles were happy to have had me and wished me luck.
"Coming back to California will be a new life for me -- but it's time to get on with it," said Worthington.
Of the two players obtained for Worthington and minor-league lefthander Tom Martin, Lewis has the best chance to make an immediate impact.
He was 6-3 with three saves and a 3.38 earned run average in 48 relief appearances at Las Vegas last year and had no record (4.15 ERA) in 12 games with the Padres. He is on the major-league roster and is scheduled to report to Sarasota, Fla., with the rest of the Orioles' pitchers and catchers on Thursday.
Martin is another addition in the Orioles' effort to increase the overall speed in the organization. He hit .268 with seven home runs, 58 runs batted in and 42 stolen bases for High Desert in the Single-A California State League last year.