Steroidal injections are commonally used to treat herniated discs in the back and relieve nerve irritation, particularly around the spinal column. Havens was originally diagnosed, and has been repeatedly described as having a strained oblique. Turns out, according to this recent Stanford study, "injection of steroids and anesthetic under ultra-sound appears to speed recovery and rehabilitation in professional baseball pitchers with acute side strains."
Surgery for an oblique issue seems rare. When else is surgery prescribed for a muscle strain? Google was a little baffled. The top hit when I googled "oblique surgery baseball" was Johan Santana who just underwent shoulder surgery. The only reference to an oblique in the AP story: the reference to Jose Reyes, who did suffer a strained oblique and was preparing to return to action. The great Will Carroll, upon reading Rubin's story, responded to our own Michael Diaz (@mikedeeez) via twitter that the story was "Odd. No idea what they mean there. I'll dig into it."
Havens played in just 32 games this year, 18 in AA Binghamton, and 14 rehab games in advanced-A St. Lucie. The 23-year old hit a combined .312/.386/.592. We could praised the power, the patience or critique the strikeout rate, but all of it is secondary to the fact that Havens played in just 32 games this year. Since he was drafted in in the first round in 2008 at #22 overall, four spots after Ike Davis, Havens has played in just 152 regular season's games in the last two and a half seasons. He's played in just 42% of his teams' games. Havens signed very quickly after the 2008 draft, coming to terms on June 13th, and appearing for the first time with the Cyclones on June 30th.
Havens has missed over a full year's worth of games in his first two and half years as a professional. Just one year ago in the Arizona Fall League, he told me that he did not feels as though he was injury prone, and the injuries that plagued him in 2008 and 2009 were merely bad luck. Well, then that's three years in row of bad luck. All of the missed development time lowers Havens' top-end projection significantly. Assuming he's healthy, with just 14 games in AA-Binghamton, he'll essentially be starting AA fresh as a 24-year old in 2011.
Maybe the injections heal Havens' oblique and he recovers in time to crush his way through the AFL or a Carribean winter-ball season. That certainly feels unlikely, doesn't it?
He could still grow into a productive big leaguer, but he'll have to play more than one month in a six-month season first.