Ellsbury originally was in Tuesday's lineup for the opener against the Rangers, but was scratched just before game time with a bruised tailbone, stemming from being hit by a John Danks pitch on Monday in Chicago. Francona said it's nothing to be alarmed about, just a way to give him time to recover.
"It was a good way to get him back into the flow of things," Francona said. "Get him an at-bat and also to rest J.D."
Ellsbury walked while pinch-hitting for Kevin Cash in Tuesday's 19-17 win over the Rangers, crossing the plate with the game-tying run in the eighth. Despite his efforts, Francona is being patient.
"I think he's fine to play tonight. He got in the game the other night, and he actually ran real well. But it was a chore to get him to that point, so we gave him last night, we'll give him tonight.
"The biggest hurdle he was looking at was sliding. [He] kind of worked himself into a position knowing he can get down."
"That area, you just don't want to slide too hard on it," he said. "You don't want to reaggrivate it right away. But these last couple days, I've been fortunate to not hurt it while I was in there."
Francona inserted Coco Crisp into the lineup during each of the three tilts with Texas this week, and Crisp was in the lineup again Thursday -- batting eighth and playing center field.
Ellsbury was batting .526 over his past five games prior to Tuesday, with two homers and three stolen bases. It was a turning point for the rookie, who slumped through much of July and lost his spot as the leadoff hitter -- a spot Francona adamantly says he'll regain in the future.
The pitch Ellsbury took in the tailbone happened in the in the sixth inning, and it broke up a perfect game bid by Danks. The Sox would eventually win that game against the White Sox, 5-1.
"It's still sore," Ellsbury said. "But the biggest thing is we're winning, so it makes it a little easier."