As it turns out, Francona proved prophetic with the way he answered Saturday's pregame inquiry.
"Sometimes those decisions -- somebody pulls a hammy, and all of a sudden, a decision gets made," the manager had said.
And a day later? Francona had Ellsbury penciled into the seventh spot in the order. But two hours before Sunday's game started, Kevin Youkilis was scratched with an impingement of his left shoulder.
Francona than reshuffled his lineup, with Ellsbury leading off for the first time since July 25, J.D. Drew moving into the cleanup spot for the first time this season, and Sean Casey filling in for Youkilis at first base and batting seventh.
The Red Sox hope Youkilis can return to the lineup on Monday night, when the White Sox send left-hander John Danks to the mound.
Youkilis suffered the injury three or four days ago lifting weights.
"He's got, just a little impingement. He did it lifting," Francona said. "He felt it for the last three or four days. With the lefty going tomorrow, I think we get him out of there today and get him back in tomorrow. He swung the bat good last night. It's just bothering him a little bit."
The timing was opportune for Ellsbury to go back to the top. In his previous three games, he had gone 8-for-12 with two homers.
Drew led off the first five games of this road trip, but Francona said all along that was just a temporary thing until Ellsbury could regain his groove.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.