Giants welcome back an appreciative Gregor Blanco

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Catcher Hector Sanchez sat by his locker on one end of the clubhouse with another nearby locker awaiting Pablo Sandoval. In walked Gregor Blanco, beaming underneath a Giants cap he refused to take off.

Was this the first day of spring training 2018 or a living museum?

The Giants do love their alumni. They usually arrive as guest instructors. This year, Sanchez, Blanco and Sandoval are trying to win roster spots.

Blanco and Sandoval have a decent shot. Sanchez seems destined for Triple-A, unless the club decides to start the year with three catchers.

“I’m not saying this in a corny way, but part of what the Giants have created here over the years with the tradition they’ve had is welcoming ex-players, whether they’re retired players or current players who can help you,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

In this 2012 photo, Matt Cain presents Gregor Blanco with a photo after Cain’s perfect game, which Blanco saved with a diving catch. Photo: Jason O. Watson, Getty Images

“There’s something about wearing this uniform. Players seem to have a great experience here, playing in The City, being with the Giants.”

Blanco, who played for the Diamondbacks last year, is trying to repeat history and make the Giants as a nonroster invitee, as he did in 2012. He has a lot of a competition for a backup outfield job in Gorkys Hernandez, Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson and even Austin Jackson if rookie Steven Duggar wins the everyday center-field job.

“I feel like a kid again,” Blanco said when asked whether he still could play center field at 34. “This is home for me and my family, my wife, my brother. Everybody is excited for me to be here. I’m really excited and hungry, and I worked really hard in the winter to show my abilities.”

The Giants’ trade for Evan Longoria leaves Sandoval as a potential backup at third and first base, a point that Bochy hopes to discuss with the 31-year-old when he arrives. Unlike Blanco and Sanchez, Sandoval was with the Giants last year and has a 40-man spot.

“I’ll be honest with him,” Bochy said. “Pablo is aware of where we’re at. I want to see where his head is at, see what he’s thinking.”

Briefly: The Giants are in “serious negotiations” with left-hander Tony Watson, the former Pittsburgh closer, according to USA Today. Management has expressed a desire to bolster the bullpen. … Lefty reliever Will Smith is still on target for a May 1 return after Tommy John surgery last spring. He has thrown seven bullpen sessions at 75 percent. … Bochy said that aside from Smith, all other players are healthy and under no physical restrictions. That includes closer Mark Melancon.

Henry Schulman is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

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