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03/11/11 12:15 AM ET

Astros said to be cooling on Nationals' Flores

Source says Houston may instead be interested in Nix

VIERA, Fla. -- It was reported recently that the Astros are looking at Nationals catcher Jesus Flores. However, Houston appears to be cooling on the possibility of acquiring his services, according to a baseball source.

The Astros believe Flores, who missed almost two years after a foul ball hit by D-backs outfielder Chris Young hit him on the right shoulder, still has weakness in his throwing shoulder.

If the Astros were to trade for Flores, they would look at him as a project. They would not want to trade a lot to get him.

For the first time since moving to Washington, the Nats have catching depth, which means they could trade Flores.

Ivan Rodriguez will start the season as Washington's Opening Day catcher, while Wilson Ramos is considered the team's backstop of the future. Derek Norris most likely will start the season in the Minors. According to many in the Nationals organization, Norris already has a big league bat, but is making strides behind the plate.

Meanwhile, with manager Jim Riggleman saying that outfielder Laynce Nix has an uphill battle to make the team, the Astros may have interest in the left-handed-hitting outfielder, according to the source. Houston would like to add a left-handed hitter off the bench.

Nix, who signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals last month, is 4-for-13 (.304) with two RBIs in six games.

Harper has eventful three innings vs. Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Right fielder Bryce Harper continues to show the Nationals what the future will be like when he is placed on the 25-man roster.

During Washington's 6-5 loss to the Astros on Thursday night, Harper replaced Jeff Frazier in the bottom of the seventh inning. Astros first baseman Matt Downs hit a deep fly to right with two outs, and Harper was able to make a nice running catch to end the inning.

"[Center fielder Rick] Ankiel was yelling, 'Wall, wall, wall. You got room, you got room, you got room,'" Harper said. "To have Ankiel coming from center field helping me out was huge. It got a little scary near the wall."

Harper hit a soft liner off right-hander Ross Wolf in the eighth that dropped in front of left fielder J.B. Shuck. Harper, running hard out of the batter's box, ended up with a double.

"I saw [Shuck] going after the ball pretty slow," Harper said. "My game is to come out of the box hard and think [about a triple]. I came hard out of the box, I saw it and I went."

However, it was Harper's error in the ninth inning that allowed Houston to win the game. With a runner on first and one out, Brian Dopirak doubled down the right-field line. It looked like Jimmy Paredes was going to stop at third base, but Harper's throw to the infield was wide, allowing Paredes to score and end the game.

"I threw a little bit right, and it got me," Harper said.

Gorzelanny encouraged by first spring outing

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Tom Gorzelanny pitched in his first Spring Training game of the season on Thursday, throwing 2 1/3 innings and allowing three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks in a 6-5 loss to the Astros.

The Nationals left-hander had yet to pitch in a Spring Training game because he was sick with the flu.

Gorzelanny found himself in trouble in every inning, but he typically got out of the jam. He allowed two singles and a walk with one out in the first inning, but the Astros didn't score because Gorzelanny induced a double play from Bill Hall.

After a second-inning RBI single from Carlos Corporan, Gorzelanny left the game in the third after allowing a single to Carlos Lee and a double to Hall. Both runners scored when Chris Johnson took a Garrett Mock pitch to left field for a single. Gorzelanny ended up throwing 47 pitches -- 23 of them went for strikes.

Considering it was Gorzelanny's first start of the exhibition season, Washington manager Jim Riggleman felt the left-hander was OK on the mound.

"It seemed like he got behind a couple guys," Riggleman said. "But the ball must have been moving pretty good, because the hitters [didn't hit him all that hard]. He pitched out of trouble a little bit.

"I thought he was OK. It was his first outing, I was very pleased, mainly, that he is strong. He held up good. He threw almost 50 pitches. I think it's a good one to build on. I'm happy with it."

Gorzelanny said the positives outweighed the negatives. He felt his slider needed more work, since he had problems throwing it for strikes.

"Results-wise, it didn't look pretty. If you look at a box score, you see that I did badly," Gorzelanny said. "I felt I did pretty good. I was getting my work in. The good thing about today was I was around the zone. I was just missing with quite a few of those balls."

Werth back in action; Zimmerman aims for Friday

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was back in the lineup for Thursday's 6-5 win over the Mets. He missed Wednesday's a game against the Marlins because of leg soreness.

Serving as the designated hitter, Werth went 1-for-2 with two walks and drove in a pair.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, on the other hand, missed his third consecutive game because of an abdominal strain. Manager Jim Riggleman is hoping Zimmerman can play against the Astros on Friday.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.