NEW YORK -- It's make-or-break time when it comes to the Blue Jays' chances of taking a run at the postseason.

Toronto entered play on Monday night sitting 1 1/2 games back of the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card spot. That's not a difficult number to overcome, but the task is daunting considering there are five teams between Baltimore and Toronto in the standings.

The Blue Jays will need to be at their best during a portion of the schedule that sees the club play four series against teams above them in the standings before the end of the month.

"I just talked to the team about it briefly," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said prior to the opener of a three-game series against the Yankees. "This has got a chance to define our season a little bit more.

"There's going to be steps along the way, and different sets of challenges that we'll meet, or we'll encounter. This road trip presents one of those, and I think this has a chance to further define us, not only who we are, but what we're capable of."

Toronto's rough second-half schedule begins with three-game trips to New York and Boston. The club then returns home to face Oakland and Detroit before embarking on a West Coast swing.

The upcoming two weeks should provide general manager Alex Anthopoulos with a clear indicator about which direction his club is headed in. The timing is key considering the non-waiver Trade Deadline occurs on July 31.

The Blue Jays' daunting schedule -- which still includes 43 games against AL East rivals -- provided a perfect opportunity for Farrell to deliver a message to his troops during a closed-door meeting on Monday.

"When we came back from the All-Star break, I didn't have a gathering, so to speak, which is kind of a natural break in the schedule where you can take that as an opportunity," Farrell said. "But on the flight in here last night, I felt like this might be an opportunity to raise some thoughts. Not to raise additional pressure, but to say we have a chance to further define ourselves on this road trip."

Blue Jays lefty Perez set for Tommy John surgery

NEW YORK -- Blue Jays left-hander Luis Perez is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla.

Perez suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow during a game against the White Sox on July 8. He is now expected to be out for at least the next 12 months.

Surgery became the recommended course of action during the All-Star break, but Perez was sent for a second opinion with renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews just to make sure surgery was the only option.

"I think in this case, while it's the worst feared, it's a very clear-cut path going forward, and the reconstructive surgery is a successful one," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "It's been proven time over time, and yet it's still going to be roughly 12 months before Luis would be able to return to us."

Perez will become the second Blue Jays pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery this year after Kyle Drabek suffered a similar fate in June. Perez also joins Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchison and Jesse Litsch as Toronto pitchers who have suffered severe injuries this season.

Morrow and Hutchison are expected to recover later this year but Drabek, Litsch and now Perez aren't as certain of a commodity. That could leave the Blue Jays with some holes to fill during the offseason, but according to Farrell, that's the least of his concerns right now.

"We know this is a short-term game," Farrell said. "We'll have time to plan with who's targeted, who's either traded for, signed for, or targeted internally to take over spots.

"We've got some long-term injuries to rehab, but at this point, we're focused on tonight. There's always an eye to the big picture, but we'll address that at the appropriate time."

Morrow takes step forward in rehab progression

NEW YORK -- Brandon Morrow completed another step in his rehab process by tossing a 40-pitch bullpen session on Sunday.

Morrow has been on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle since June 12. He is expected to be out until at least mid-to-late August, but a pain-free bullpen session indicates that he is at least on schedule.

"[Morrow] threw all of his pitches, no ill effects today," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He's scheduled for another [bullpen session] on Thursday. I would assume -- and tentatively scheduled -- for the same number of pitches, maybe a few more.

"That would put him in line for batting practice, likely a week from today."

Morrow will require three-to-five rehab starts in the Minor Leagues before being able to make a return to Toronto. His presence would be a welcome addition for an injury-riddled starting staff that is also without Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek.

The 27-year-old Morrow was enjoying a career year at the time of his injury. He is 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA and three shutouts in 13 starts this season.