After just one start, Tim Stauffer returns to DL for Padres

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This certainly hasn’t been Tim Stauffer’s year. Four days after making his season debut against the Nationals, the right-hander has gone right back on the disabled list due to a sprained right elbow.

Stauffer’s original injury that kept him out the first five weeks of the season was termed a right elbow strain. After a rehab assignment, he returned to give up four runs — three earned — in five innings versus Washington on Monday.

It’s yet to be announced who is pitching in his place Saturday. Left-hander Eric Stults, who was claimed off waivers from the White Sox yesterday, is one possibility.

Stauffer, the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft, was a nice story for the Padres in 2010, when he amassed a 1.85 ERA in seven starts and 25 relief appearances, and he remained pretty good as a full-time starter last year, going 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA. Still, he’s never been able to escape the injury bug that’s held him back from the moment he was drafted. Now it looks like 2012 could go down as another lost year for him.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.