MINNEAPOLIS, OCT. 17 -- Tom Pagnozzi knew a lot of people might react strangely when they saw his name in the starting lineup for a World Series team tonight. "A lot of people don't know who I am," he said. "Maybe that'll work out for the better."

He smiled. It was kind of a joke. Tom Pagnozzi knows that even the best of baseball fans may not know him or what he's doing in the World Series.

For the record, he was here tonight as the designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was getting a chance to play because the Cardinals are without Jack Clark and Terry Pendleton and were forced to push Tom Lawless and Jose Oquendo, their two top replacements, into the lineup also.

Tonight's game was one of the final chapters of a long, strange year for Pagnozzi, a 25-year-old catcher who is one of the Cardinals' brightest young prospects.

In fact, at the beginning of spring training he was expected to make the Cardinals as a backup catcher. But when they acquired Tony Pena from Pittsburgh, he thought his chances were dead. Then Pena got hurt early in the season, and Pagnozzi wound up playing 27 games for the Cardinals. But even when he was brought up in August, he didn't think he'd be put on the postseason roster.

"When they traded Pena, I figured I wouldn't play in the big leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals," he said. "I figured I'd spend the year at AAA, and if I played well, I might be traded."

He said he was handling the pressure of today's situation fairly well because, "I'm not thinking about it and haven't thought about it. If you think about it, you'll create extra pressure, and this game is hard enough anyway. I just keep myself occupied. My wife's here, and we go to dinner, shopping, whatever she wants to do." Eating for Success

He's not eligible for comeback player of the year, but if there were a Most Improved Player award, St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith certainly would be in contention. After a winter conditioning and nutrition program, Smith increased his batting average from .280 to .303, his doubles from 19 to 40 and his RBI from 54 to 75.

His nutritionist was Mackie Shilstone of New Orleans, the man who has worked with Manute Bol, Michael Spinks and Will Clark in the past.

"As baseball players, we get into bad habits," Smith said. "It's easy to go into a fast-food place and throw down a hamburger. Don't tell Mackie, but I still have an occasional hamburger."No Room for Switches

Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly said he's under no illusion that his pitchers will be anything more than automatic outs when they bat in Games 3, 4 and 5 at Busch Stadium. He said his problems are twice as bad because he can't afford to make the many double-switches that Whitey Herzog can make.

"You look down my lineup, and there are a lot of guys I won't take out," Kelly said. "Gary Gaetti, Kent Hrbek, Greg Gagne, Tom Brunansky . . . . Those guys aren't coming out. Really, second base {Steve Lombardozzi} is the only place I can make a switch. Whitey has a lot of guys who look alike -- Curt Ford, Lance Johnson, Tom Lawless. Those guys do about the same thing. I don't have players like that. I have a pretty good nucleus, but not the kind of club that can be moved around.". . .

The Twins last appeared in the World Series in 1965, and the 21 years between appearances is the longest for a participating club since the Philadelphia Phillies went 29 years (1950-80). It's the longest drought by an AL representative since the A's appeared in 1972 after missing 41 seasons. . .

Dozens of big-screen televisions will be spread around the Metrodome Wednesday night, and fans here will be invited in to watch Game 4 of the World Series.

Details still were being worked out today, but dome officials said some sort of admission would be charged. Similar events have been held at other ballparks, but only those with the scoreboard-sized television screens. The Metrodome has no such screen, and dome officials still weren't sure where all the screens would be placed. . .

Minneapolis television station KARE monitored the sound level inside the Metrodome during Game 2 of the American League playoffs. What the station came up with is this: It's a noisy place.

The station said the sound inside the stadium ranged from about that of a chainsaw to a jet at takeoff. For Twins hits, the sound level was about 100 decibels, comparable to a chainsaw. When the Twins scored, the noise level was above 110 decibels -- rivet-gun tones.