NEW YORK -- Dustin Pedroia's decision to play the final two games of a lost season with a broken left finger highlighted the infielder's willingness to play hurt.
But unwittingly, it also focused the spotlight on Jacoby Ellsbury who missed six games last week with an injury that he wouldn't disclose, and again, was out of the lineup Monday in the series opener, though seemingly healthy.
"Jacoby's situation was different," said manager Bobby Valentine. "CC (Sabathia) was pitching and I saw him face (another lefty, Baltimore's Joe) Saunders a couple of nights before with his breaking ball and I thought it was a situation where a righthander might be able to do better."
Valentine played Che-Hsuan Lin in Ellsbury's place.
"Lin got half (2) of our hits," said Valentine, "so maybe that hunch was right. I thought I was playing the team that gave us a good chance to win. It's a big center field. Lin's a very good defensive player. Ells really hasn't hit that well against lefthanders. And Lin got two hits last night and the first time up, he really walked, but they called him out on a high 3-and-2 curveball, so he really would have been on base three times."
When Pedroia was asked about the contrast of Ellsbury sitting out Monday and the second baseman's decision to play hurt Tuesday, Pedroia defended his teammate.
"He's been beat up, man," said Pedroia. "He's had his share of injuries this year. This year's been tough on a lot of guys. He doesn't have to answer anything like that. Don't go there. He's fine."
Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis.
Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time.
The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.
Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball.
Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer. And…
US ambassador to Japan?
Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.
The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons.
When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team."
Would he be interested?
"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.
Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.
Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.