WASHINGTON -- American Idol season 10 winner Scotty McCreery had two loves when he was growing up: music and baseball.
While McCreery is best known as an ACM Award-winning and platinum-selling country music star, he has also been a lifelong baseball player and fan. Before Sunday's game at Nationals Park, he presented a $4,000 donation to the Nationals Dream Foundation and its Youth Baseball Academy.
"Baseball, to me, was a huge part of my life," McCreery said, "so I want to make sure these kids out there get the same chances I did when I was growing up."
McCreery stopped by Nationals Park in partnership with Major League Baseball to promote the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. He first got involved with the program by donating money in Nashville.
McCreery was also scheduled to sing God Bless America on Sunday afternoon.
"I'm pumped," he said. "It's a cool [song] to sing, especially in the nation's capital."
Nats celebrate Davey's career in home finale
WASHINGTON -- Davey Johnson wasn't exactly looking forward to Sunday's pregame ceremony at Nationals Park, which the club put on to celebrate its retiring manager's career.
"If it's anything more than five minutes, my back may go out," Johnson said on Thursday. "We've got a ballgame to win."
But toward the end, when a line of Nationals players and coaches came by to share hugs and a few words, center fielder Denard Span could tell Johnson was feeling some emotion.
"Yeah, he did, he did," Span said. "As a matter of fact, I asked him, he had his shades on, I was like, 'You not crying behind those shades, are you?' And he told me, 'Bleep no.' But yeah, you could definitely tell that he appreciated just the whole ceremony and us just saluting him off."
Johnson called the festivities "real moving," if perhaps a little uncomfortable.
"I like to stay away from those emotions," he said. "It got to me."
The ceremony began about a half-hour before the Nationals' 4-2 loss to the Marlins. Johnson, in his 17th year as a big league manager and his third with Washington, ambled out of the home dugout and stood next to general manager Mike Rizzo.
They watched on the stadium jumbotron as the team played a montage of highlights of Johnson's career, which will end at the conclusion of the season. Johnson played and managed more than 3,800 Major League games, not to mention more in Japan and other places.
Johnson tipped his cap to the crowd and shook hands with managing principal owner Ted Lerner and other owners, who presented him with a customized crystal in recognition of his contributions to the franchise.
The 70-year-old skipper then looked back to the jumbotron, where Nationals players and coaches thanked Johnson and said their public goodbyes. The video also featured some of Johnson's former teammates and players, including Jim Palmer and Boog Powell, as well as Cal Ripken Jr.
"Really nicely done, it brought back a lot of old memories," Johnson said. "It was fun seeing me in a Japanese uniform again. It was really sweet. I was really moved by it."
As the video came to an end, most of the team lined up in front of the home dugout and greeted Johnson one by one as the crowd at Nationals Park gave him a standing ovation.
"He has so many accomplishments. I didn't even think of the stuff that he had done and how long he's been in the game," said starting pitcher Dan Haren. "It was sad. If I was him, I cry easy, so I would've been choked up. So many people saying so many really nice things about him."
There were no tears from Johnson, just a tip of the cap, a bow and a hasty retreat back to the dugout.
"He doesn't like being put out there and being put above everybody else," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "That's the kind of guy he is. But I think he appreciated it and enjoyed it."
Said Johnson: "The guys were great. I felt like when it was over I should take off my uniform and go crawl in a hole somewhere. It was nice."
Strasburg third fastest to reach 500 strikeouts
WASHINGTON -- Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg reached a milestone on Sunday night when he caught the Marlins' Christian Yelich looking at strike three to end the top of the fifth inning at Nationals Park. The strikeout was the 500th of Strasburg's career, making the 25-year-old the third fastest in Major League history to hit that threshold.
After getting Yelich, Strasburg had 500 K's in 426 1/3 innings. Only former Cubs fireballers Kerry Wood (404 2/3 innings) and Mark Prior (421 2/3) have gotten there quicker since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Strasburg picked up his first strikeout in his big league debut at Pittsburgh on June 8, 2010, getting the Pirates' Lastings Milledge swinging in the first inning. Last year, he finished seventh in the National League with 197, despite pitching only 159 1/3 innings. The righty entered Sunday with 181 strikeouts in 170 innings this year, or 9.6 per nine innings.
He claimed No. 500 after getting Yelich into a 1-2 count, then pumping a 95-mph fastball to the outside corner.
Nationals do best to weather complications of rainout
WASHINGTON -- The weather prevented the Nationals from playing baseball on Saturday night, so they played golf instead. Some players, including reliever Drew Storen, set up a little course in the home clubhouse at Nationals Park and squared off with their putters to pass the time during a nearly four-hour rain delay.
"It's really tough to read these greens," Storen joked on Sunday. "Lot of sneaky breaks here ... plus they just mowed it yesterday."
Golf was about all the Nationals could do, other than watch TV, eat and sleep. Their game against the Marlins finally was called shortly before 11 p.m. ET, setting up Sunday's split doubleheader. The situation was complicated, because Washington leaves town on Sunday night and heads for St. Louis, where it begins a series on Monday.
Storen, the Nats' player representative, said there was some discussion of making up the game on Thursday, a common off-day for the two teams. But that would have required the Nats to fly from St. Louis back to Washington, then on to Phoenix, where they finish their regular-season schedule against the D-backs.
"That was an option, too, which would've been nuts," Storen said. "Essentially, when it gets late in the year like this, you get handcuffed. It's nice that we have all these tickets sold, but that also complicates it, too. It's part of it. It's a good problem to have, we used to not have to worry about that."
While there was a long effort to wait out Saturday's rain storm, that decision was not in the team's hands.
Eventually, the Nats were left facing a Sunday that could go a long way toward deciding their fate. They enter the day 4 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second National League Wild Card berth. If Washington sweeps the doubleheader and Cincinnati loses at Pittsburgh, the Nats would go into the final six games of the season with a three-game deficit. On the other hand, two losses and a Reds win would put them six out and on the brink of elimination.
"Yeah it's a big day," Storen said. "I think we're very fortunate to have the roster size we do. We feel confident in the guys who've come up to help us out. It's all part of the adversity, and we're going to have to earn it. There's really nothing you can do. It was a rock and a hard place with the options we had."
• Fans who had tickets to Saturday's game and could not attend Sunday night's makeup can exchange their tickets for any Prime Regular or Value game during the 2014 regular season, excluding Opening Day and Marquee Games. Exchanged tickets will be issued from available inventory in the closest pricing category of equal or lesser value to the original seats.
• Brothers Donovan and Jhonatan Solano started against each other for the first time in their big league careers in Sunday afternoon's game. Donovan played second base for the Marlins, while Jhonatan -- older by two years -- was catching for the Nationals. The two have appeared in the same game before, but have never both been in the starting lineup.
• A Nationals Park crowd of 34,824 for Sunday night's makeup game gave the club a total attendance of 2,652,422. That's the highest mark since the stadium opened in 2008, at an average of more than 32,000 per game.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.