Bilardello struggled with injuries as a Dodger farmhand before the Reds claimed him and made them their catcher for 1983. A dead-pull hitter, he batted .238 as a rookie and went downhill from there. His catching mechanics were excellent, but his game-calling was found lacking. He welcomed his trade to Montreal in 1986, but didn’t last the season. He spent all of 1987-88 in the minors before resurfacing briefly with the Pirates in 1989 when Mike LaValliere missed half the season with a knee injury.