SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds has accepted the fact he could finish his career next year in the American League as a designated hitter -- if he's still playing at all.
"As a cancer person as I am, who would want to talk to me, anyway?" Bonds said, referring to being contacted by other teams once 2006 ends. "I'm supposed to be the biggest cancer around."
Bonds was lighthearted and laughing with reporters swarmed around his clubhouse recliner Tuesday, only hours before Chicago Cubs outfielder Juan Pierre robbed him of career home run No. 714, which would have tied Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time list. The Giants won 6-1.
Five times Bonds put his fingers to one side of his lips and moved them like a zipper to the other side, signaling he would be keeping mum on several topics for now.
Would he like to be a DH one day? Zip.
Would joining a contending team be a requirement? Zip.
And what's he think about the two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote "Game of Shadows" detailing his longtime alleged steroids regimen being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating who leaked them secret testimony from Bonds?
Retirement? He wouldn't go there yet either.
"I said I was going to retire way back at Candlestick," Bonds said, grinning.
Bonds, 41, returned to the Giants' lineup for the opener of a three-game series against former skipper Dusty Baker and the Chicago Cubs after getting the night off for Monday's makeup game against Houston.
Bonds, who hit career homer No. 713 on Sunday night with a 450-foot shot in Philadelphia, has always said he would like to call it quits with the Giants. His father, Bobby, and godfather, Willie Mays, played for San Francisco and this is Bonds' 14th season with the club.
He would go to another team if that's how things have to happen, but he will wait for San Francisco management to make a move.
"If I had no choice, yes," he said. "If I had a choice, I don't know yet. ... I would hope [to hear from the Giants]. This is my home. I don't want to get too excited too early or I'll get crushed. I don't ever try to assume or predict anything. I never predict the future. I never have and never will."
He's pretty sure he could play about 155 games if he didn't have to stand in left field and for nine innings.
"Whew, just a DH? What? I could do that," he said. "Oh, yes."
Giants owner Peter Magowan isn't ready to plan for 2007 just yet. Bonds, who turns 42 in July, is in the final year of a five-year, $90 million contract.
"He's said different things at different times," Magowan said. "He said this year would be his last year and he said it wouldn't be. He's reversed himself at different times. For a lot of reasons, I think this would be best addressed by the Giants, as I've said in the past, when the season ends. There is too much uncertainty now. What is right for the organization? By the end of the year we'll know."
Though Magowan said "it would be difficult" to see Bonds break Hank Aaron's career record of 755 homers elsewhere.
Bonds' agent Jeff Borris told Newsday he expected Bonds to play in 2007 and changing leagues to be a DH was a realistic possibility.
Borris suggested 1,000 home runs could be in reach if Bonds only had to hit.
"Don't believe him," said Bonds, who spoke to Borris a couple of days ago. "Maybe Jeff knows something I don't know."
Bonds has complained about getting cold and stiff standing in the outfield -- and he has hobbled around the bases on many occasions this year. He underwent three operations on his troublesome knee last season and was limited to 14 games.
"It would extend him close to 800," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "I'd love to have Barry play every day."
For now, Bonds told Alou he would like to play all six remaining games on this homestand as long as his body allows it.
"I want to," he said. "I feel better. I've been playing more."
There's no question he's ready to move past Ruth and rid himself of the media herd that has been following his every move. When told that many of the reporters writing about his chase would soon leave once he hits 715, Bonds said, "That's the best news I've heard since my children were born."
"It's been crazy," he said. "Being in a different country right now would help me relax. ... I don't know, Italy maybe. That'd be nice. So I can drive Ferraris as fast as I want, hang out on the beach, go to the islands."