THERE'S STILL no decision on whether Placido Polanco will have surgery to repair his sports hernia soon, or try to gut it out until after the season. As far as the third baseman is concerned, though, one thing is certain.

One way or the other, a decision will be made by Tuesday when the Phillies open a three-game series against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

"Without a doubt," he said. "That's why the next couple days will be I can or I can't. And if I can't, I have no choice. I'll have to take my chances and get the surgery next week. I've heard 3 weeks. I've heard 6 weeks. You know what I mean?"

It is the inability to pinpoint a recovery time that has kept the Phillies and their third baseman on the fence. Even though general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he'd miss 4 weeks, he also recognizes that's only a guesstimate. And with 6 weeks left in the regular season, there's not much margin for error.

"It may take much longer, like Raul [Ibanez] did," Amaro conceded. "I don't think his issues are as drastic or severe, but there's no guarantee it will be 4 weeks. It could be much beyond that. So we'd rather take this route and see if he can get through the season and then deal with it after the season."

Polanco, who left the game with the injury last Saturday at San Francisco, said he's feeling better since taking an injection but doesn't know how much more his condition will improve, if at all.

So he continues to wait. But not for much longer.

Up against the wall

Former first baseman John Kruk was officially added to the Phillies Wall of Honor before last night's game and gave a brief speech that had the sellout crowd roaring. Among his applause lines:

* On what Philadelphia means to him: "I met my wife here. My children were born here. I was diagnosed and cured of [testicular] cancer here."

* On being traded to the Phillies from the San Diego Padres in 1989: "I stunk. They took a chance on me. And apparently it paid off."

* On the magical 1993 season: "We came up short [of winning the World Series], but it was a party every day, and 50,000 people joined us every night. We killed a lot of brain cells, but y'all were right there with us."

* On hearing Philadelphia is too tough on its athletes: "To those people I say, you didn't have the guts to succeed here."

Paging Matt Stairs

The Phillies signed 32-year-old Jack Cust to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple A Lehigh Valley. It's not out of question that he could end up reprising the lefthanded-threat-off-the-bench role Matt Stairs played so well in 2008 after being acquired from the Blue Jays.

"He's a power bat. We'll take a look and see if he's a guy who can help us in the big leagues at some point," Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We don't have a ton of power off the bench right now. We've got some [lefthanded hitters] who have done a good job off the bench, but not who can pop the ball out of the ballpark, not a threat necessarily. So we thought it was worth giving him a shot."

Cust was released by the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 4.

Tick, tick, tick

The deadline to sign players drafted in June is Monday at 11:59 p.m., and the Phillies have yet to come to terms with their first two picks, slugging outfielder Larry Greene and speedy Roman Quinn, both taken out of high school.

"I think we're working towards a middle ground, and I'm optimistic we're going to get this thing done on both of them," scouting director Marti Wolever said. "It may be right at the deadline, but I think we'll get them both done."

The Phillies had several unsigned players in town yesterday, including 15th-rounder Ryan Garvey. He was accompanied by his father, former Dodgers and Padres All-Star Steve Garvey.

"We just wanted to bring him in, along with a bunch of other kids, to see what we might have in the back end of the draft in case [No. 1 or No. 2] decide not to sign so we can use that [money] somewhere else," Wolever said. "He's a good-looking kid who's got some bat speed and strength like his father. I think there's still a chance. It's kind of contingent on how the others fall, if we're going to have enough money to be able to do anything. But, yeah, we have a lot of interest."