The way Ellsbury hit in 2011, he looked like a No. 3 hitter in the making, combining average, speed and power.
After missing 79 games with a right shoulder subluxation, Ellsbury has had a hard time finding a groove since his return on July 13.
In 42 games this season, he is hitting .250 with one homer and 11 RBIs.
"Just talking with the coaching staff, they feel like, in the past, sometimes he's been moved out of the leadoff spot and he's gotten a little more aggressive," said Valentine. "I took heed of that to see if we could get him a little more aggressive."
This was Ellsbury's first career start in the No. 3 spot.
Pedro Ciriaco was vaulted to leadoff, and Dustin Pedroia, who had been batting third of late, moved back to the two-hole.
If Ellsbury can return to form, it could make a profound difference in Boston's batting order, which has struggled of late with two key power bats -- David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks -- out of action.
"Just watching him come back, he's just mis-hit a lot of balls," Valentine said. "The fastball that's up and away that he takes a really good swing at often ends up behind home plate, and the breaking ball that it seems like he's right on seems like it's been a ground ball to second or first. To me, in the simplest form, means he's that much out in front of the breaking ball and that much behind the fastball. But maybe it's more than that.
"I can't make the comparison. They look like really good, full swings. He's hitting a little off the end, and they're going down to the right side of the infield -- or really good, full swings, and the balls are going straight back."