PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Ivan Rodriguez were scheduled to be in the starting lineup against the Mets on Tuesday night, but manager Jim Riggleman informed the media that Zimmerman and Rodriguez would not play because of injuries.

Zimmerman will be out of action for at least five days because of a groin strain. The Nationals didn't clarify how Zimmerman injured himself.

Zimmerman was scratched from the lineup before the Nationals left Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., on Tuesday afternoon. Instead, Jerry Hairston Jr. received the start at third base against New York.

"Zim is the type of guy that feels -- and I agree -- that he doesn't need a lot of Spring Training at-bats, so we'll be real careful about how we bring him back," Riggleman said.

As for Rodriguez, he was running in the outfield at Digital Domain Park when he suffered a cramp in his calf. The injury is not considered serious; Rodriguez will miss at least two days. Instead of Rodriguez, Jesus Flores started against the Mets.

"The trainer feels confident that it is a little cramp-type thing in there," Riggleman said. "We don't want to turn it into anything more serious."

Gorzelanny in thick of race for a spot

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Tom Gorzelanny had arguably his best outing of the spring on Tuesday, pitching four innings and allowing a run on two hits with four strikeouts and three walks in a 5-2 loss to the Mets. Unlike in his last outing, Gorzelanny was able to locate his slider effectively.

"I was really pleased," manager Jim Riggleman said. "His ball was down. He got behind on a couple of guys and came right back on them. He was able to get some swings and misses, which indicated that the ball was moving a little bit. I thought he was a lot better than his first outing."

Gorzelanny is competing against Ross Detwiler, Chad Gaudin and Yunesky Maya for the fifth spot in the rotation. So far, none of the four is out of the running for the job.

"They are all throwing the ball well," Riggleman said. "Somewhere along the line, we have to make a call on that one. [Right now], no one has pitched themselves off the club. They all have done well. That is a good problem."

Morse out, but likely for Wednesday

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals left fielder Mike Morse was scheduled to start against the Mets on Tuesday night but was scratched because of stomach ailment caused by medication for a tooth abscess.

Morse started to feel better during the game -- a 5-2 Nationals loss -- and could have played if manager Jim Riggleman needed him to. Morse is expected to be in the lineup against the Astros on Wednesday afternoon.

Gaudin puts endurance on display

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Chad Gaudin continues to show he is a strong candidate to be the fifth starter in their starting rotation.

In an intrasquad Minor League game on Tuesday, Gaudin pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits, striking out two batters and walking three. He threw 75 pitches, 48 of which were strikes. Gaudin became the first Nationals pitcher to go six innings in a game at spring camp this year.

Before the game, Gaudin was in a rush to throw his pitches in a bullpen session, according to pitching coach Steve McCatty, and it affected the right-hander at the start of the game. Gaudin walked the first hitter he faced but settled down after that.

"He has real good sink to his pitches," McCatty said of Gaudin. "He doesn't make too mistakes over the plate. He has an outstanding changeup and a very good slider.

"He competes. It's fun to watch him. He did very well today."

Cora likely a backup in Nats' infield

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Nationals are close to naming Alex Cora one of their backup infielders for the start of the regular season, according to a baseball source. Cora, who signed a Minor League deal with the team, is having a great spring, having gone 7-for-17 (.412) with an RBI entering play on Tuesday.

But it is more than Cora's numbers that have impressed the Nationals. He has become one of the leaders in the clubhouse. For example, he is often spotted trying to help Nyjer Morgan with his bunting and giving the center fielder words of encouragement.

With Cora most likely on the roster, the Nationals may try to move infielder Alberto Gonzalez, who could be traded or designated for assignment because he is out of Minor League options. Manager Jim Riggleman often raves about the glove work of Gonzalez, who has been a reliable bench player the past few seasons even though he would prefer to play every day.

Worth noting

Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez made his second appearance of the spring on Tuesday and is not showing any signs of being a dominant pitcher. He pitched one inning and allowed a run on two hits. ... The seating capacity at Nationals Park for the 2011 season will be 41,506 -- a slight decrease compared to last year (41,888) due to the removal of a few seats and an adjustment to the suite manifest.