A new one, for a change, cracks the tight circle of major league managers, as Texas trots out Doug Rader, the irreverent Rooster third baseman for Houston and San Diego, 1968-77.

A hit as skipper of the Padres' Hawaii affiliate, Rader, 38, says he doesn't believe the Rangers, 98-time losers this year, need a massive overhaul, just a 20 percent increase in production from on-hand talent.

Rader was fearless in his wild off-field antics during his playing days -- "That was all 10 years ago; I wish everybody would give all of that stuff a rest." But, "It scares . . . me that I'm the 12th manager in 11 years with this club." And on just a one-year contract . . .

Floyd Bannister, AL '82 strikeout leader, will be pitching in the NL, for Los Angeles, if the Dodgers can sign the left-hander quickly. They agreed on a trade with Seattle prior to Bannister's impending plunge into the Nov. 10 free-agent draft. Reportedly going to the Mariners, if Bannister signs in 72 hours: pitchers Ricky Wright, Alejandro Pena, outfield prospect Mark Bradley. If no go, the Mariners will try to trade Bannister (12-13 last season), who turned down a $2 million, three-year deal to stay, to the Angels. Bannister, 27, has until Thursday midnight to file for reentry . . .

Tony Perez, 40, unconditionally released by Boston's Red Sox, and if this is the end of his 18-year career in the majors -- .281, 363 HR, 1,532 RBI -- what a way to go it was, a home run his last time up in Fenway Park.

Boxing: WBC heavyweight champ Larry Holmes turns 33 Wednesday, and later this month in Houston's Astrodome, promoter Don King announces, will make his 13th title defense -- against Randy Cobb. The Texan, 27, had signed to fight WBA champ Mike Weaver, only to lose that shot to injuries and litigation in favor of Mike Dokes. Now he faces the unbeaten Holmes either Nov. 22 or 26, depending on the status of the NFL (Oilers') season . . . The Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello scrap for Pryor's WBA junior welterweight title is on. Lawsuit settled in Cincinnati, cutting in Pryor's (ex?)-manager, Buddy LaRosa, for a sliver of the champion's $1.6 million slice of the Nov. 12 pie). End of threat to the Orange Bowl biggie (HBO . . . plus Capital Centre closed-circuit showing to Bullets-Knicks customers).