Ellsbury, according to manager Bobby Valentine, has been nursing a nagging leg injury in recent weeks.
"The last couple of days we've just been concerned about a little leg situation," said Valentine. "This is just being over-cautious and aware of the situation. And he's fine. I said, 'Do you want a day off?' And he said, 'Absolutely no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, 100 times no. I want to play. I want to play.' So he's DH-ing."
Ellsbury downplayed whatever might be bothering him.
"It's in good shape," said Ellsbury. "I've been playing the last couple of days and it's felt good."
Entering Thursday's game, Ellsbury was hitting .270 with a homer and 11 RBIs, stats that paled in comparison to his near-MVP campaign of last season.
"I'm really glad that he's back," Valentine said. "His presence is very important on a team, and his production. Again, I'm very satisfied with what he's doing. I think you guys have vision of what he did last year and how excellent he was in every facet of every minute of the game. He's not quite there yet. He's plenty good for me."