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Marlins' overhaul sends Villone to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Ron Villone went to his first game at Yankee Stadium in 1976, when New York was starting a run of four AL pennants and two World Series titles in a six-season span.

He remembers watching Ron Guidry pitch and Don Mattingly hit. Now, Guidry is his pitching coach after the Yankees acquired him from the Florida Marlins on Friday for minor league pitcher Ben Julianel.

"It was a great stage to play on," Villone said. "The Yankees were the best team. You always wanted to be a part of it. I guess today I get to live that dream a little bit."

Villone grew up in Edgewater, N.J., and lives in Upper Saddle River, a short drive to Yankee Stadium. The 35-year-old left-hander was a combined 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 79 games last season for the Seattle Mariners and the Marlins, who acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline.

He joins a bullpen that includes two other new pitchers, right-hander Kyle Farnsworth and left-hander Mike Myers, and includes holdover right-handers Tanyon Sturtze and Aaron Small. Al Leiter could return as a third left-hander.

"It starts to form something we're very comfortable with," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had tried to sign Villone last winter and acquire him from Seattle last summer.

"He's versatile. He can spot start, he can long relieve, he can situational lefty. He has the ability to do all of those without complaint, and that's attractive."

New York also has been pursuing Nomar Garciaparra as a utility player. Garciaparra met Thursday with the Los Angeles Dodgers and could make his choice this weekend. Cleveland and Houston also have been negotiating with Garciaparra.

"Nomar continues to talk with players, friends and family members," Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, said in an e-mail Friday. "He is weighing his options carefully and while he has no plans on making a decision today, he intends to do so in the near future."

Villone, part of the Marlins' exodus, is joining his 10th major league team after stints with Seattle, San Diego, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Colorado. Houston, Pittsburgh and Florida. He is owed $2 million next season in the second year of a $4.2 million, two-year contract.

Florida has cut about $47 million in 2006 payroll after starting last season at $60 million. Among the other players who have been traded or left as free agents are starting pitchers Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, first baseman Carlos Delgado, second baseman Luis Castillo, third baseman Mike Lowell, catcher Paul Lo Duca, center fielder Juan Pierre and reliever Guillermo Mota.

Julianel, a 26-year-old left-hander, was 5-3 with a 3.90 ERA in 46 games last season at Double-A Trenton.