TAIPEI, Taiwan -- There are 89 steps rising to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, an impressive monument that houses a statue of the late president of the Republic of China who is revered in Taiwan.

LaTroy Hawkins did his best Rocky Balboa impression up those steps, running the whole way, turning around and raising his arms aloft in victory.

It was a good workout for the big league reliever as the Major League All-Star team that is here for a five-game series against the Chinese Taipei national squad made the first stop of a Tuesday morning sightseeing tour of Taipei City.

The first game of the series, played at Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City, will air on MLB.com and MLB Network on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. Games 2 and 3, played at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, will air on Thursday and Friday at 9 p.m. ET; and Games 4 and 5, played at Chengcing Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung, will air at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday and at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The players and coaching staff were soaking in the history, the physical beauty of the architecture and the culture, having a good time doing it.

After completing his ascent of the steps, team manager Bruce Bochy was asked what he thought of the climb.

"I think I need to get in shape, is what I think," he said with a laugh.

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson and the rest of his teammates on the MLB team listened attentively as tour guides told them that there are 89 steps because Chiang died at the age of 89. They wandered through the plaza that leads to the memorial and gazed with mouths agape at the National Theater and National Concert Hall, identical buildings bedecked in regal red and gold that flank each side of the vast walkway.

After climbing the stairs and witnessing the amazing concentration of two guards, frozen in motion and facial expression while holding bayonet-tipped rifles in one-hour shifts, Granderson gazed up at the enormous statue of Chiang, perched over his longtime domain.

Could Granderson imagine having his likeness bronzed one day as some of baseball's greats already are?

"If anything, it'll only be at my mom and dad's house," Granderson said, smiling. "That's the only place I'd get a statue. The only one I've seen like that ... Pudge Rodriguez had one like that at his house in Puerto Rico. And I'm nowhere on that level to even get one that large.

"I'll take a little baseball card in bronze and put it on my mom's desk. That'll be it."

Upon hearing that, Reds reliever Bill Bray cracked, "It's already in the works. It's going up next to Marilyn [Monroe] on Michigan Avenue [in Chicago]."

That was the spirit of the day for the players, who are enjoying every minute of a fascinating experience and interacting with the Taiwanese people whenever they can.

They were swarmed by a group of schoolchildren who were visiting the memorial on a field trip, and Granderson, Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, Astros closer Mark Melancon, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval and others gave the kids high fives and fist bumps, and posed for photos and video clips with them.

After witnessing the changing of the guard, the tour buses were off to another spectacular example of traditional local architecture, the Martyrs Shrine, which was in remembrance of the country's casualties of war. Again the players were treated to a changing of the guard, this one a long, dramatic exercise that included marching and the synchronized twirling of rifles and clicking of boots to the ground.

"This is awesome," Nationals reliever Collin Balester said. "We get off the bus and we're in the middle of palaces. It's a good experience and we're just out there enjoying it."

Upon returning to the majestic Taipei 101 skyscraper, otherwise known as the world's second-tallest building, the team was feted with a traditional lunch at an iconic Taiwan eatery, the dumpling house called Din Tai Fun. And soon after that, it was time to get ready to play baseball.

The first game of the series, played at Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City, will air on MLB.com and MLB Network on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. Games 2 and 3, played at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, will air on Thursday and Friday at 9 p.m. ET; and Games 4 and 5, played at Chengcing Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung, will air at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday and at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

"We're ready to get going," Nationals slugger Mike Morse said. "We're ready to play ball and see how they do it in Taiwan."