In Indianapolis, it's not uncommon to find an IZOD IndyCar Series driver working out alongside another professional athlete as they train at sports performance centers in preparation for the 2010 season. So it made sense that Hideki Mutoh would take the same approach as he prepares for the season while in Japan.
Mutoh, the 2008 IndyCar Rookie of the Year, spent this week working out at the private training camp of Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo "Kaz" Matsui (at left, below) in Tokyo.
"I met Matsui when we were racing in Kentucky in 2008, and he came to the race when he was in town for a game (at Cincinnati)," said Mutoh, who returned the visit as Matsui's guest at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark and remained in contact with the former Japanese baseball MVP. "He was holding a private training camp in Tokyo and invited me."
Though the camp is focused on baseball skills, Mutoh has been able to apply the training to skills he uses in racing. Mutoh has participated in speed and coordination training, including sprint drills and games of catch to improve his hand/eye coordination.
Mutoh isn't the only professional athlete at Matsui's training camp. Hideo Tokoro, an MMA featherweight fighter in the DREAM organization, and Koji Uehara, a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, are also participating in the camp.
"I have had a good time so far but I think things get a bit more intense, when we are joined by an MMA fighter," Mutoh joked. "It may be safer in the car."