ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Dave Kingman is packing his bags again.
The slugging outfielder, who missed half of last season with a shoulder injury, is bringing his potent bat and suspect attitude back to New York after being traded Saturday from the Chicago Cubs to the Mets for Steve Henderson and $100,000.
'I'm not surprised,' said Kingman by telephone from San Diego. 'I kind of expected something to happen. I'm looking forward to going back to New York. I had two good years there and I hope to have many more.'
Kingman, who played for the Mets from 1975 through June of 1977, still holds the club's single-season home run record (37 in 1976). He was seeking to renegotiate his contract with the Cubs but team owner Bill Wrigley was not interested in discussing the matter with the 32-year-old outfielder, known for his lack of cooperation with press and management.
Chicago executive vice president Bob Kennedy said the team originally wanted Mets pitcher Tim Leary, a 15-game winner last year in the Texas League, instead of the money but the Mets offered other pitchers instead.
'We felt our people were as good or better so we finally took the money,' said Kennedy.
Kingman, who will be playing with his sixth major-league team, appeared in just 81 games for the Cubs last season after suffering a shoulder injury last May. He was on the disabled list for almost two months but returned to play in the All-Star Game, where he re-injured the shoulder.
For the 1980 season, Kingman hit .278 with 18 home runs and 78 RBI. Two years ago, Kingman led the NL with 48 homers.
'Dave Kingman is a quality home run hitter that we have been missing since we traded him,' said New York manager Joe Torre, a former teammate of Kingman's. 'He gives us the game-breaking threat now that we have been lacking for past seasons.'
Entering his 11th season, Kingman has 270 homers in 3,839 at bats and a lifetime batting average of .243. However, he has played in over 140 games in a single season only once.
Henderson, who came to the Mets from Cincinnati on June 15, 1977 in the Tom Seaver trade, was perhaps the steadiest New York player in 1980. The 28-year-old outfielder batted .290 with 149 hits, 8 homers and 58 RBI. In four seasons with the Mets, Henderson has a career average of .287.
'It's difficult to give up a player the caliber of Steve Henderson,' said Mets General Manager Frank Cashen. 'He's not only a fine player but an outstanding individual. He has had good seasons for the Mets and should be even better in the future.
'However, our primary need is power. We only hit 61 homers last year and 74 the year before that. Dave Kingman was number one on our shopping list. I have been trying to make this deal for six months and I'm happy it's finally been culminated.'
Cubs Manager Joey Amalfitano said: 'It is difficult to picture the Cubs without Kingman's bat. When you think of a guy with his power, you remember the good things -- how he could take the pressure off the pitching staff with one swing.'
Kingman left the Cubs' spring training headquarters in Mesa, Ariz., Friday and went to San Diego. He signed a 5-year contract with the Cubs in 1978 at $240,000 a year but his fifth year was not guaranteed unless he showed up on the Opening Day roster.
After an arbitrator ruled a $700,000 salary last year for reliever Bruce Sutter, Kingman urged the club to reopen contract talks. But Kennedy said he was 'sick and tired of all of our problems with him.'
In his 10-year career, Kingman has played for San Francisco, the Mets, San Diego, California, the New York Yankees and Chicago.
'He can do well if he can concentrate on the game,' said Amalfitano. 'But to tell the truth, I don't think he's all that interested in playing baseball. He is a very good player.He is not a superstar -- not yet.
'He is only a half inch from becoming a superstar. But, on the other hand, he is only a half inch away from 'see you later.''