The Yankees are in a slump.

It's been two years since the world's most famous baseball team has won a World Series championship and owner George Steinbrenner has been grumbling.

''The Boss'' set the tone for spring training by chastising Derek Jeter and manager Joe Torre and making it perfectly clear the only acceptable result for the 2003 season will be the Bronx Bombers' 27th World Series championship.

The immaculate Yankee image was tarnished by what many viewed as the pulp fiction pitcher David Wells spewed in his new book.

It's been anything but business as usual for the team with baseball's highest payroll and greatest expectations.

Steinbrenner admits Torre's calm, soothing presence is ideal for the trauma and drama that seems to bubble and surface daily.

''I think with Joe Torre at the helm, we can handle those bumps,'' Steinbrenner said.

Torre admits there's pressure.

''It gets to everybody,'' Torre said. ''It's a little tougher when you are inexperienced and even the experienced people have problems. There's not a lot of wiggle room in New York. Our future is this minute and we're impatient at times and a lot of young players have to grow up in a hurry.''

Fortunately for Torre, the Yankees are loaded with players who own more rings than Tiffany's.

They've worn a familiar path to the top of the world and don't expect to stumble again in their ninth straight trip to the playoffs.

The season's most compelling storylines will center around pitcher Roger Clemens and Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui.

Clemens, who turns 41 in August, has hinted this will be the final season of his Hall of Fame career. The six-time Cy Young Award winner is on a mission to achieve two things: win his 300th career game, he needs seven more; and one more championship.

''This will probably be my last year,'' said Clemens, who had a 1.93 ERA with 15 strikeouts and three walks in his first four spring starts. ''If I could get 300 and get back to the big dance again, that would be the most fun. Those are my expectations.''

All-Star catcher Jorge Posada marvels at the passion and pride Clemens brings to the park every day and wouldn't be surprised if ''The Rocket'' decided to come back.

''That guy loves baseball, he loves being out here,'' Posada said. ''He's still having fun, working hard, so this may not be his last one. He loves the game, and it's tough to walk away from something you love, something you've been successful at for a long time. He looks good, hopefully the season will be a good one for him and we'll see what happens.''

Matsui, known as ''Godzilla'' during his glory days in Japan, is going to see if he can conquer New York.

The gregarious 6-2, left-handed slugger is a certified folk hero in Japan and his every move has been chronicled by a 18 Japanese reporters, six TV stations and several radio outlets.

''There's a part of me that is very excited, but there is also a part of me that is a little worried, a little nervous, because I don't know what to expect,'' said Matsui, who hit a career-high 50 homers for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan's equivalent of the Yankees, last season. ''It's a mixture of emotions, because everything is so new — a new environment, new league, new procedures. It's exciting.''