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07/01/2009 6:23 PM ET
Dreams of Future Help Families Cope with the Grind of the Season
Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha focuses on his future in order to deal with being away from his family. (Scott McDaniel)

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BOISE, ID - When you hear about minor league baseball, it is always labeled as a grind-especially for young players fairly new to the minor league system. But for most, it isn't the long road trips, the hot days or the months and months of baseball that make the summers tough; it is leaving behind families and loved ones, sometimes leaving them halfway across the world.

Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha thinks about his family every day that he suits up for the Hawks.

"I really miss my parents, my brother and my friends," said Ha. "I talk to them every day on the phone."

But Ha knows that his time in Boise will pay off in the long run.

"I have a plan," said Ha. "I will do my best this season and next season I will go home and play in Korea because my family is there."

Ha won't return as soon as his minor league season is over, however. After the season ends, he will head to Mesa for running camp for about a month. He won't make it back home until late October.

On the flip side, many family members struggle sending their sons or husbands off to play baseball.

Amy Sontag, wife of pitcher Ryan Sontag, knows what comes when your loved one has big league dreams.

"It is difficult," said Sontag. "My viewpoint is that I just want to be with my husband, but this is his dream and it is very important to both of us. [Playing professional baseball] is something you don't get a lot of chances to do...for him to get this chance, the best thing I can do is support him."

Like Ha and his family, the Sontags talk every day on the phone, often more than once a day.

"He is here with me...he just isn't physically here," said Sontag. "In life we have these challenges and once we overcome it, our lives will be filled to the max."

"Challenge" is a well-chosen word for Sontag who is expecting the couple's first child in the coming weeks.

But Jae-Hoon Ha and Amy Sontag, even though they are on separate sides of the same experience keep going with the same thing in mind-dreams of their future. Ha thinks of his future baseball career in Korea, and Sontag thinks of her future family.

"We just keep looking to the future," said Sontag. "And we keep getting one day closer to the future."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.