Cards Add Another Veteran Lefty – Ron Villone

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Ron Villone to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to the team's Major League spring training camp.

Left-hander Ron Villone pitched for the New York Yankees the past two seasons. He appeared in 37 games for the Yankees in 2007, going 0-0 with a 4.25 ERA (42.1 IP/20 ER) after starting the season in Triple-A. The 38-year-old had one stint on the disabled list last season due to a lower back strain. Following the season, Villone was originally left off the Bombers' ALDS roster, but was added when Roger Clemens was unable to go due to a hamstring injury.

Villone, a veteran of 11-plus seasons in the majors, owns a career mark of 55-57 with a 4.76 ERA (1069.1 IP/565 ER) in 580 games, including 93 games started. He lasted started a game in 2004 with Seattle.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Villone was drafted in the first round (14th player overall) of the 1992 free-agent draft by the Seattle Mariners out of the University of Massachusetts. Villone made his Major League debut in 1995 with Seattle. His career has included stops in Seattle, San Diego, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Houston, Colorado, Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees.

"We feel that adding Villone to the mix this spring will give us some additional options and added depth when putting together our bullpen," said Cardinals' Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "He's a veteran pitcher who knows how to approach the role and we'll see what he can provide as we move through the spring."

The addition of Villone also means yet another player named in the Mitchell Report is associated with the Cardinals. Personal trainer and former New York Mets employee Kirk Radomski stated that he made three sales of HGH to Villone in 2004 and 2005 while Villone pitched for Seattle. The report also fingers Villone as the person who put his former Mariners and new Cardinals teammate Ryan Franklin in touch with Radomski. Franklin failed a MLB-sanctioned test and was suspended in 2005.

While clearly a low-risk addition, on the surface the Cardinals' need for this move is in question. With three experienced lefties already in camp for just two bullpen spots (Tyler Johnson and the Flores brothers, Randy and Ron), one has to wonder why more veteran depth is viewed as necessary.

Is there an injury? Is another related move planned? Despite his introduction as a reliever, might the Cardinals plan to prepare Villone or perhaps one of the other lefties as a starter?

We'll have to watch the news from camp in the upcoming days and weeks to find out…

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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