The manager's conservative approach paid dividends, when Ellsbury was improved enough to be right back in the lineup for Friday's game against the Blue Jays.
"In a game like that where we're getting beat up, if he wanted to stay in, it didn't seem like it made a lot of sense," said Francona.
Ellsbury was confident the ailment won't deter him going forward.
"It's still a little sore," said Ellsbury. "But just tape it up and be ready to go. I wanted to play and stay in the game. Ultimately, it worked out pretty good. I iced it up, and it probably feels a lot better because of that today."
At a time in the season where every game is crucial, the Red Sox value Ellsbury's presence at the top of the lineup and in center field.
"He has the ability to change the game in different ways because of his legs, defensively or hitting the ball out of the ballpark," said Francona. "That's why he's a good player."
Ellsbury entered the night hitting .298 with six homers, 45 RBIs and 55 stolen bases.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.