PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets have taken another modest step toward addressing a need they say they don't necessarily have. They signed veteran reliever Ron Villone to a Minor League contract Friday and invited him to their big league camp. Villone, 39, is one more decidedly left-handed reliever in the camp of a club that has said it probably doesn't need one.

Villone ostensibly will compete with Tom Martin, Casey Fossum and Heriberto Ruelas for the unacknowledged role and with Tim Redding for the distinction of being the 104th person to play for the Yankees and Mets.

The Yankees are one of the 11 teams with which Villone has played in a career that began with the Mariners in 1995. He appeared in 107 games with the Yankees in 2006 and '07 and in 74 games with the Cardinals last season, when he pitched 50 innings, produced a 1-2 record and a 4.68 ERA. He walked 37 and struck out 50.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya has noted several times since camp opened that the club may not need to add a second left-handed setup reliever -- Pedro Feliciano already is in place -- because it expects the "crossover" effectiveness of J.J. Putz to offset the need created when the club traded left-handed pitcher Scott Schoeneweis.