MIAMI -- A day after Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth into second place on the all-time home run list, the Giants slugger made his most definitive statement yet about whether he expects to play again next season.

"If my health feels good and I feel like I can play, then I'm going to play," said Bonds before the Giants lost, 5-1, to the Marlins on Monday night at Dolphin Stadium. "I'm going to give it a shot. There will be a good chance."

Bonds was back in the lineup Monday evening, more than 24 hours after hitting home run No. 715 at San Francisco against Colorado Rockies right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim. Bonds now stands 40 behind Hank Aaron, the all-time leader with 755. Bonds went 1-for-4 against Florida and now has hit only two of his seven homers on the season in his last 73 plate appearances.

The fact that Bonds is secure enough in the condition of his thrice surgically repaired right knee to begin thinking about returning in 2007 means that he's serious about his pursuit of the all-time home run record. But that's not the only reason he's considering coming back.

"My son keeps telling me, 'Dad, you can still play. There's times when you don't run as well, but Dad, you can still hit a ball a long way. If you work on it all the time, you can just keep on doing it,'" Bonds said. "I'll sit back and think about that one. I told him, 'You get straight A's and I'll consider it.'"

Bonds' 16-year-old son, Nikolai, is a sometimes Giants batboy and just happened to be doing the job May 20 in Oakland and Sunday in San Francisco when Bonds tied Ruth and then passed him eight days later. Nikolai was waiting at home plate for Bonds after each tape-measure bolt.

Bonds said part of the impetus for hitting the milestone homer Sunday at AT&T Park was that his son wouldn't be making the six-game trip, which continues Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Dolphin Stadium and then moves on to New York's Shea Stadium, where the Giants open a three-game set against the Mets on Friday night.

Bonds, who has started in 40 of the team's first 51 games, probably will take a day off Wednesday in Florida and then sit for one of the weekend games in New York, manager Felipe Alou said.

Nikolai, a high school student, is taking finals this week.

"I feel good because my son said he's going to do good on his finals if I hit the homer on Sunday," Bonds said, reiterating a point he made during the post-715 press conference. "Now he owes me. He didn't want to watch me hit it on TV."

Bonds has waffled at times about whether he wants to return next season, although his agent, Jeff Borris, said recently that he wouldn't be surprised if Bonds is back on the field somewhere in 2007.

Bonds reiterated Monday that he won't formally commit to returning until later in the season. But the doubt is certainly diminishing.

"It's a long way away. We're still in May," Bonds said. "There's still time. Anything can happen between now and the end of the season."

to the babe and beyond

Bonds is in his 14th season playing for the Giants, but is in his last year of a five-year, $90 million contract. He'll become a free agent after the World Series. Bonds said Monday that there's been no contact with the front office about a new deal, and Peter Magowan, the team's president and managing general partner, has said the Giants won't evaluate re-signing the top left-handed home run hitter in baseball history until the end of the season.

Magowan has also consistently said he wants Bonds to break Aaron's record wearing a Giants uniform.

It's not inconceivable that Bonds could jump to an American League team. Bonds was the designated hitter when he hit his 714th homer at McAfee Coliseum during an Interleague road game. In his 21st season, all in the National League, Bonds said he would rather remain a complete player, playing his left-field spot defensively.

"I'm out there playing every day, playing as much as I'm playing," Bonds said. "That to me is a real positive."