The Kansas City Royals will waste no time launching a batting race between 1976 American League champion George Brett, 333, and runner-up Hal McRae. Manager Whitey Hersog is moving them to the one-two spots in the order, so they will be the first hitters the Tigers' (Mr. Fidrych, we presume?) must pitch to in the April 7 opener at Detroit. And if all goes well, they'll stay in those spots. "If I can bet both of them up there five times a games, we'll get more hits, score more runs," explaints Herzog in this new test of an old theory . . .

Speaking of one-two punches (and McRae was almost angry enough to throw same at somebody after Brett beat him out on a tainted hit last game of '76), Len Randle isn't the only sports figure resorting to fisticuffs outside the ring.

That exchange of kuckles in the Phoenix press box between Indy racing stars Gordon Johncock and Johnny Rutherford after Sunday's Jimmy Bryan 150 did more physical damage, a bloody nose to winner Rutherford than the auto collision that preciptated it.

They were coming out of the second turn on the 93d lap, Rutherford said he was beside Johncock's car and the crash wall left no driving room - "so I just backed off the throttle to let him go by." Johncock's left rear wheel ran over Rutherford's left front, causing Johncock's car to spin out. Rutherford went on to win over A. J. Foyt. In the press box, Johncock said, "If you ever do that to me again, John, I'll put you over the fence." He added to reporters, "You all heard that." The argument continued and soon they came to blows.

Rutherford finally offered to the bystanders, "I want to apologize for this unfortunate incident. We were just racing and get together. It's all part of racing." Hmmm, weren't stock car racing's Petty and Pearson saying the same thing, in similar circumstances, not long ago?

Then there are Pittburgh Penguin hockey players Dennis Owchar and Russ Anderson. Owchar is scheduled for a hearing Thursday on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice when police arrived at the scene of a weekend brawl that injured two men, 19 and 20, and a woman, 20. Witnesses at a downtown Pittsburgh apartment complex told officers that Anderson punched a male guest, then hit the woman when she tried to aid the man. The three non-Penguin principals required hospital treatment for such as fractured nose, broken teeth, etc. Anderson was not charged because police didn't see him break any laws...

Chris Weller probably doesn't have anything to worry about after her Maryland women's 17-6 basketball campaign, but one of the sport's top coaches, Cathy Rush, is at liberty. Rush, winner of three national titles in seven years of Immaculata College in Philadelphia, resigned yesterday with a 149-15 record. Rush, whose Mighty Macs came in fourth in last week's national tournament after eliminating the Terpettes in the regionals, said she had notified the school earlier in the season that this was her last one. At 29, she talks of a "need to move on, there are so many things that need doing," but probably not in coaching because she wants to spend more time with her two young sons. Her husband is Ed Rush, an NBA referee...Things won't be the same around West Point, the USMA people lament, with the retirement, effective June 30, of Eric Tipton as coach of Army's baseball and 150 pound football teams. The 1938 all America tailback and punter at Duke, later a big-leaguer in baseball, turns 62 next month; a Williamsburg, Va., native, he coached at William & Mary before serving two decades at the academy, where his ball team entered this season with 228 wise and his light footballers went 104-14-1 with 13 Eastern titles...

The presumed dead in the Canary Islands air disaster include Ray Gelberger of Santa Barbara, Calif., where he retired in 1963 from the county agricultural extension service; his son is Al Geiberger, No. 13 on golf's all time money-winning list. Al got the word at Greensboro, N.C., where he was readying to defend his Greater Greensboro Open title starting Thursday - needing only $876 to top the $1 million mark. A PGA official added that the parents-in-law of tour competitor Wally Armstrong also were aboard the Pan Am flight that originated in California...In Rockford, III., Janet Lynn, the former figure skating star, is recuperating after giving birth to her first child, 8-poung 4-ounce Dustin Patrick Salomon, by Caesarean section...In a country chapel at Grand Coteau, La., Bert Jones wed his college-and-ever-since sweetheart, Daniele Marie Dupuis of Opelousas, and may their little ones grow up to be outstanding Colts too. Or, better yet, Redskins...