Gary Brown playing left field — just in case

Suddenly, the Giants have a big hole in left field.

Now, and in the future.

After getting record-setting production out of Melky Cabrera for 113 games, the Giants are now forced to find some way to get something out of the position. For the moment, Gregor Blanco and Justin Christian are splitting time, but they are hitting a combined .181 since Cabrera was suspended.

To give themselves another option, top prospect Gary Brown has started playing left field for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. On Saturday, Brown patrolled left field for the first time. After returning to center on Sunday, Brown was stationed in left once again on Monday.

The move may not necessarily mean the Giants are going to call him up immediately to take over for Blanco and Christian. They could be playing him in left so he can get used to playing there in case they need to call him up in an emergency.

On Sunday, The Chronicle’s Henry Schulman asked Giants manager Bruce Bochy about Brown playing left. Bochy attributed it to “covering that box,” meaning they are making sure he can play the position.

If the Giants bring Brown up by August 31, he is eligible for the postseason roster. Any players that join the roster in September can not play in the playoffs.

Brown could also be an option in left field for next season. With the revelations about Cabrera’s testosterone escapades, it’s doubtful that the Giants bring him back.

Hunter Pence is going to cost around $14 million in arbitration, while Angel Pagan could make $6 to $7 million next year. So an inexpensive solution in left field makes a ton of sense.

If Brown shows that he can play left field, it makes the Giants’ offseason a little bit easier.

After lighting the world on fire last year at High-A San Jose, the Giants’ 2010 first-round pick has had an up-and-down season at Richmond. Brown struggled in April and May, hitting a combined .245. But he started to figure things out in June, boosting his average to .326 in June and July.