Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a hard curve, Villone was a southpaw who pitched for seven teams over six seasons, struggling to find a role or a setting where he could pitch consistently despite flashes of brilliance.
Villone only appeared in 19 games with the Seattle Mariners in 1995 before being traded to the San Diego Padres. He showed promise in his first season in the majors with 63 strikeouts over 45 innings, but scouts worried about the 44 hits and the 34 walks he allowed. He began the 1996 season with the Milwaukee Brewers and pitched 23 games before being traded once again to the Pods. His strikeout totals fell, but his ERA also dropped to a very respectable 3.14.
From 1997 to 1998, Villone pitched ineffectively for the Brewers and the Cleveland Indians before being invited to Cincinnati’s spring training camp in 1999. Because of injuries to the Reds’ staff, Villone found himself not only on a major-league team, but also in a starting rotation for the first time. With the Reds, Villone resurrected his career by going 9-7 with two saves and a 4.23 ERA.
In 2000, Villone struggled early in his second season as a starting pitcher and was movedtemporarily to the bullpen until njuries again won him a rotation spot. He finished 10-10 with a 5.43 ERA, closing the season in style by striking out 16 St. Louis Cardinals on September 29th — a franchise record for the most strikeouts by a left-hander in a single game.
With arbitration looming, Villone was traded to the Colorado Rockies in the off-season for two minor-league pitchers. Expected to be the fifth starter in a surprisingly strong Rockies rotation, he performed poorly and made only six starts before Colorado sent him to the Houston Astros for reliever Jay Powell on June 27. With the Astros, Villone returned to the bullpen and went 5-7 with a 5.56 ERA down the stretch.